Saturday, November 08, 2008

Livni's Obama strategy

From JPost, Nov 7, 2008, by CAROLINE GLICK:

With Sen. Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential race, the stakes have been raised for Israel's February 10 general elections.

Whatever the Obama administration's position on Israel may be, it will not be more supportive of the country than the Bush administration has been.

...If Israel's next prime minister intends to prevent Teheran from acquiring the means to implement its stated aim of destroying Israel, he or she must be prepared to stand up to ...Obama....

Over the past few days, the two contenders for the premiership - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu - have demonstrated their starkly contrasting views of how to deal with a potentially hostile administration in Washington.

Reacting to Obama's electoral victory on Wednesday, Livni made clear that from her perspective, the best way to deal with an unfriendly White House is to preemptively surrender Israel's national interests. In her words, Israel's election results "must reflect the country's interest in advancing the peace process, otherwise the international community, headed by the US, will try and push us in this direction."

For their part, Netanyahu and Likud have shown that if defending Israel's national interests requires a confrontation with Washington, they will not shy away from it. Last week, Netanyahu surrogate MK Yuval Steinitz informed both US presidential campaigns that in the event that outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledges to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria, a Likud-led government will not respect his commitment.

Livni understands that she cannot win the election by preaching preemptive surrender, and so she and her colleagues are ardently seeking to change the subject.

...Unable to renounce policies she herself has advanced and indeed invented, Livni has opted simply to refuse to disclose her positions to the public. She refuses to tell us what she has offered the Palestinians in her negotiations with Ahmed Qurei, or how she intends to deal with Syria and Iran, claiming unconvincingly that telling us what she stands for would damage Israel's national interests.

...To this end, Livni and her colleagues accuse Likud of rejecting "peace." Likud's extremism, Livni argues, is demonstrated by the fact that "extremists" such as former science minister Bennie Begin and former construction and housing minister Effi Eitam are joining its ranks.

...the ...strategy deflects public attention from Israel's real enemies - Iran and its Palestinian, Lebanese and Syria proxies - against which Kadima has taken no effective action.

...Today, with banner headlines decrying the right-wing menace filling the front pages of the papers, news of Hamas's transformation of Gaza into a new Hizbullah-stan, replete with bunkers built with concrete supplied by Israel, is relegated to the back pages.

....It is far from clear that Livni will be able to pull off an Obama-like victory. She lacks his charisma. Unlike Obama, she has a public record of far-left governance and policy failure going into the election. And unlike Sen. John McCain, Israelis trust Netanyahu more than they trust Livni to protect the country's economy.

...With all that is at stake in February's elections, it must be hoped that Livni's Obama strategy will fail her. Facing Iran on the one hand and a potentially hostile Obama administration on the other, Israel requires a leader like Netanyahu who understands that if preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons means butting heads with Obama, so be it.

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