Netanyahu in a new world
Netanyahu might be tempted to take advantage of Obama's political weakness and continue marching in place. That will be absolutely contrary to Israeli interests.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go to the United States next week to take part in a Jewish community event. He'll have his first chance to travel through America since the change in the political landscape, which represents a millstone around the neck of the Democratic president, Barack Obama, in the form of Republican control of the House of Representatives.
Netanyahu's associates were aiming for such a result. But it's a simplistic approach. The Republicans are no more concerned about Israel's welfare than Obama is and are no more belligerent than he is toward Iran. The new leaders in Congress and alongside them - or perhaps among them - Republican candidates for president in 2012, are no more eager than the Democrats to appear anti-Muslim (as opposed to anti-terrorist ).
The previous Republican administration, the one that introduced terms into the Mideast lexicon such as road map and independent Palestinian state, and which embarked on two wars in the region, has left a mixed legacy. On the one hand, not the Likud platform, on the other, the aspiration to ease concerns that the Republicans are trigger-happy.
Netanyahu sometimes tends to forget that he was elected in Israel and not in the United States. The Israeli public wants peace and security. To attain this, we need daring leadership, because without a political will and a willingness to take risks, the status quo will persist until the next unnecessary war.
Israel has no better ally, partner and sponsor than the United States. The American system of government is indeed one of checks and balances, but the president has greater power. Only he is elected by the entire public, unlike senators elected in their own states or members of Congress representing a district and only then, a party. The president has the power to initiate moves and carry public opinion along with him. The other party can mainly disrupt, paralyze things and propose deals.
Claiming political weakness, Netanyahu has so far avoided fateful moves that are essential to Israel. Now he might be tempted to take advantage of Obama's political weakness and continue marching in place. That will be absolutely contrary to Israeli interests.
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