Israel vote has little geopolitical consequence

Israel vote has little geopolitical consequence

The majority of Europeans are highly critical of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while US President Barack Obama's personal relations with him are unfriendly, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein. Mr Netanyahu is seen as a right-wing hardliner opposing peaceful solutions. So much for the cliche.

Israel’s elections on Tuesday, March 17, saw Mr Netanyahu’s centre-right Likud Party go head-to-head with the centre-left’s Zionist Union led by Yitzhak Herzog in a poll which attracted a turnout of almost 72 per cent.

Mr Netanyahu's mantra was Israel's security. He opposed a Palestinian state and resists loosening sanctions against Iran. Mr Herzog put internal social issues as his priority.

A number of Palestinians - although not agreeing with his views - prefer Mr Netanyahu to other politicians. He appears to be honest about his intentions while others, showing a more conciliatory attitude, pursue the same line in a ‘hypocritical’ way.

It was a close race which puts Mr Netanyahu on course for a fourth term as prime minister. But he and Mr Herzog will be looking for coalition partners to form a government. President Reuven Rivlin supposedly would favour a coalition of the large parties as a government of national unity. It is probable he will invite Mr Netanyahu to form a government in the next two to three weeks.

Does it really matter geopolitically who forms the government? Can it honestly be expected that a different party would apply a different policy concerning Palestine and Iran than Mr Netanyahu?

Foreign policy has its constraints and the difference lies mainly in more, or less, noise - quiet diplomacy or belligerence.

Change in paradigm such as policies on the Palestinians will not change in essence by a shift of some per cent in the vote.

Related reports:

Ray of hope for peace in the Middle East

Palestine goes from warfare to law in pursuit of statehood

Both sides lose out in Israel-Hamas war of attrition

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