Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Obligatory Israel moves left post

Looks like Bibi Netanyahu miscalculated when he called early elections. Surprise, surprise, the Israeli electorate stuck it to a man they find competent but just can’t, no matter how hard he tries, like. Does this mean, as the Atlantic intoned with admirable originality, that Netanyahu “won the battle, but lost the war”? Sorta. As the article correctly concludes, you will find whatever spin you want across the internet: Bibi weak, peace process strong; Bibi still strong, peace process weak; Israel Left, but still Right; Israel Left, no longer Right. These are the pleasures of multiparty politics and a fickle electorate that, despite the dearest wishes of its premier, doesn’t live and breathe the Iranian nuclear program. Or, apparently, the peace process.

Does Obama now have leverage over Israel, as the we-know-what’s-better-for-Israel crowd hopes? Really? What will he use it for? To help Iran continue its nuclear program? To jump-start the peace process that most of the Palestinians don’t appear to want, preferring violence to liberate the territory they demand? To pursue a foreign policy strategy in the Middle East? None of the above. The winner of the Israeli election is an afterthought for a post-modern president like Obama.

What’s next? The inevitable ugly bartering that characterizes every Israeli election, trading ministries and favors and cash for power. Not that Israel is special that way; just average.  Does this mean Netanyahu won’t be able to earn support for a plan to strike Iran later this year? I doubt it. This is about all of Israel, not just the hawks. Does it mean he’ll have to give on peace? See above. At the end of the day it means that power shifted a little, but as far as Obama and co are concerned, pretty much another whatever day in the Middle East.

h/t HotAir for my title

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