Obama election to feature prominently in Israeli poll

Sunday, January 25, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Polls conducted last week following the end of the Gaza war showed Likud maintaining or increasing its lead ahead of Israel's upcoming general election.

A poll for Israel's Channel 2 News gave Likud 30 mandates in the next Knesset, compared to 22 for Tzipi Livni's Kadima Party and just 14 for Labor.

Various other newspaper polls gave Likud anywhere from four to 11 more seats than Kadima in the next Knesset, all but guaranteeing that Binyamin Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.

Some commentators suggested that Livni and Labor Party leader and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak only agreed to such strong force in Gaza in order to boost their own poll numbers.

Having failed in that effort, Livni is now using the results of the US presidential election as a backdrop for attacks on Netanyahu.

According to Livni, Netanyahu's unwillingness to surrender to Arab "peace" demands means he will strongly clash with the Obama Administration, which has vowed to aggressively and rapidly seek an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Livni said that Netanyahu's insistence on reciprocity from the Arabs will cause him to be seen as a "peace refuser" in Washington.

The foreign minister is also prepared to use negative remarks US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made about Netanyahu in the late 1990s when Clinton was first lady and Netanyahu was prime minister.

The quotes are mostly taken from former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross's book The Missing Peace, which is harshly critical of Netanyahu.

In response, Likud plans to also use quotes from Ross's book that demonstrate the American belatedly saw the wisdom in Netanyahu's approach.

Netanyahu supporters from outside the party have built on that, arguing that with Obama in power and Clinton as his secretary of state, Israel cannot afford to have anyone but Netanyahu as prime minister, as he is the only one who will fight for Israel's demands even in the face of heavy US pressure.

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