The results of the elections that took place this past week in the United States mainly reflected, of course, voters’ disappointment at the state of the national economy and some deep seated dissatisfaction about the repercussions of health care legislation.
While these elections clearly concentrated on domestic issues rather than on America’s role on the international stage, Israelis naturally viewed them through the prism of their own agenda.
President Obama’s “tough love” approach to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has not won him many friends over here. Furthermore, his demand for a moratorium on construction was seen by many as a bad move that simply played into the hands of the Palestinians and enabled them to present it as a pre-condition, thereby stalling the resumption of peace negotiations.
Given the level of distrust of his motives that exists in Israel, many here will have been delighted at the results of the US elections. A weakened Obama, it is felt, will be less able to impose his will on our country.
However, it cuts both ways. A US Administration that is unable to persuade Israelis to take unpalatable steps to advance the cause of peace will also have less influence on Israel’s Arab neighbours and be less capable of persuading the Palestinians to show flexibility.
All of this is, of course, conditioned upon President Obama’s preparedness to be an honest broker, something that many Israelis doubt.
That having been said, it is our view that a strong America is a pre-requisite for progress to be made in resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, because Israel’s present coalition government is as unwilling to make the concessions required for peace as are the Palestinians.
Without help and persuasion from outside, the peace talks – at least with our current government – are unlikely to go anywhere.