Jonathan Ferziger and Hans Nichols
Monday, Feb 9, 2009
Even before Benjamin Netanyahu finds out whether he will be Israel’s next prime minister, he is sending a message to President Barack Obama that he won’t be pushed around.
Netanyahu, the Likud party candidate who narrowly leads Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of elections tomorrow, last week took reporters to Arab parts of Jerusalem, where he helped establish Jewish footholds when he was previously prime minister. No pressure, he said, would make him cede those neighborhoods “to our enemies.”
Just as he confounded former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Netanyahu probably will resist if Obama pushes too hard to extract Israeli concessions for peace in the Middle East.
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“He’s extremely effective politically, unbelievably smart and relentlessly suspicious when it comes to the Arabs and the Americans,” says former U.S. negotiator Aaron David Miller, author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.”
Livni, leading the ruling Kadima party, has campaigned on the need to continue peace talks and compromise with the Palestinians. She would likely have a more harmonious relationship with Obama — if she were able to cobble together enough support to form a governing coalition consistent with her views. That isn’t certain, given the decline in polls of the Labor Party, Kadima’s coalition partner, which advocates Palestinian statehood.
“A Livni coalition would be so fragile that it wouldn’t be able to take any decisive steps with the Palestinians and stay in power,” says Roni Bart, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
This article was posted: Monday, February 9, 2009 at 11:24 am