The two political parties leading in Israel’s upcoming elections, Likud and Kadima, are both invoking Dennis Ross to show their leader will have a better relationship with Barack Obama, the Jerusalem Post reports.
- Kadima has distributed this quote about Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu from Ross’ latest book, "The Missing Peace:"
Bibi rarely seemed to know how to act on his ideas — how to present them, to whom, and even when to do so. Translating an idea into action seemed beyond his grasp. It was not lack of intelligence… it was the lack of judgment… but there was something more: Often he would come up with ideas simply to get himself out of a jam.
- The Likud disseminated articles Ross wrote in which he regretted not taking Netanyahu’s advice, and in which he made recommendations that resemble Netanyahu’s current economic peace plan, such as this quote from a 2007 Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal:
Rather than trying to resolve issues like Jerusalem and refugees, we would have focused on expanding the scope of Palestinian independence from Israeli control, developing and investing in the Palestinian economy, and expanding the connections between the Israeli and Palestinian societies.
- Also in the Jerusalem Post, veteran political analyst Herb Keinon considers the Obibi Effect — the degree to which Netanyahu may or may not be able to deal with President Obama, based on Bibi’s taciturn relationship with President Clinton. Meanwhil, Bibi himself says the Likud is ready to tackle Israel’s challenges as Obama takes on America’s.
- Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy bemoans the fact that there are really no differences and no moderates left among the major parties:
This is how we’re going into elections – with three leading parties that are hardly different from each other. We always used to say, ‘There aren’t any moderates in the Arab world.’ Now we are the ones who don’t have any. Vote as you will, but don’t fool yourself. Every ballot cast for Kadima, Labor and Likud is an endorsement of the last war and a vote for the next one. "
Polls show Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman is poised to be the spoiler in this election, but columnists don’t seem to like him much.
- Ynet’s Attila Somfalvi warns readers to keep an eye on Lieberman since he is the new favorite of disaffected centrist voters.
- A Ha’aretz editorial worries that Lieberman’s views have infected other, more mainstream candidates.
Lieberman’s dangerous and anti-democratic worldview has thus succeeded in infecting the centrist stream of Israeli politics, and that is reflected in the statements of politicians who are considered relatively moderate.
- Former Jerusalem Post editor Jeff Barak calls Yisrael Beitanu’s racism "Truly worrying. And no less worrying is the fact that none of the country’s leading politicians seems willing to speak out against Israel Beitanu’s racist attitudes."
Meanwhile, Lieberman, in what he calls an annual election "tradition," is being investigated of accepting a bribe via his daughter’s consulting firm. A Ha’aretz Op-Ed asks if these investigations are more political than criminal. Ha’aretz also reports that Likud and Yisrael Beitanu are treating each other with kid gloves since they may need each other when coalition talks begin after the election results are tabulated.
- Time Magazine agrees that Israel’s Gaza operation has strengthened the political parties on the right.
- The Los Angeles Times predicts that Ehud Barak will enjoy a comeback.
Finally, Ynet presents a set of dueling opeds for and against Israel’s High Court’s decision not to bar two Arab parties from the election. Israeli singer Arik Sinai, a Yisrael Beitenu supporter, asserts that the decision ignores the "growing radicalization of Arab community leaders wishing to undermine the pillars of the State of Israel, where they live and are granted rights." Columnist Boaz Okon counters that "everyone is entitled to be elected to the Knesset."