Why the Israeli Election Doesn't Matter

Only Obama, not today's winner, can save country: Rachman
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 9:48 AM CST
Israeli Foreign Minister and Kadima party candidate Tzipi Livni, casts her ballot at a polling station in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo / Heidi Levine, pool)
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(Newser) – Whoever prevails in Israel's surprisingly tight election today, one thing is sure, writes Gideon Rachman: The country is moving to the right. That means that Benjamin Netanyahu or Tzipi Livni will lead a coalition that will "opt for the status quo" of occupying the West Bank, expanding settlements, and using overpowering military force. For the Financial Times columnist, only Barack Obama, and not the winner of today's race, will be able to transform the region and bring about peace.

It's no secret that Israel has been wary of the new president, writes Rachman. But the lesson of this election—especially if Netanyahu wins—is that Israel is not ready to acknowledge it faces an "existential threat" that no military operation can assuage. Israel may be nervous about pressure from the White House, Rachman acknowledges. But if Obama pushes the new government to cut a deal with the Palestinians, "he will in fact be doing the country a favor."