Early Israel Elections May Affect Peace Process

Reports say the need for early elections to determine the makeup of the Israeli government could affect the peace process with Palestine in varying ways.

An early Israeli election may kill off more than George W. Bush’s hopes of a peace deal with Palestinians this year. It could bring a right-wing government hostile to peacemaking by his successor in the White House.

The failure of Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, new leader of the ruling party, to form a new government, starting the countdown to a likely election in February, will further sideline peace talks that the U.S. president hoped would bolster a legacy burdened by the war in Iraq.

Diplomats and analysts said the election could have implications far beyond Bush’s term, citing opinion polls showing a lead for the right-wing opposition Likud party of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has criticized many of the peace proposals that Livni and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have made with U.S. encouragement.

“We’re deeply worried,” said one senior Western diplomat in Jerusalem, speaking anonymously because he did not want to be seen interfering in Israeli politics. “This may spell the end of the diplomatic process, and not just in the near term.”

A senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said an early Israeli election would put the peace process “on hold for half a year, at least.”

via Reuters: Peace process may be derailed by Israeli election

Many on the Kadima side say early elections may help the bid to make peace with Palestine:

Many Israelis now agree to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and they may see Livni — the chief Israeli negotiator in peace talks and seen by Washington as a straight-shooter — as being more capable of hammering out a deal than the hawkish Netanyahu.

via Time Magazine: Could Early Israeli Elections Eventually Help Peace Prospects?

And the election made necessary by Tzipi Livni’s failure to establish the coalition needed to rule looks like it will end up a battle between Livni’s Kadima party and the more hawkish Likud.

Although no one knows how the fight for the Prime Minister’s Office will play out, the three main contenders’ advisers have supplied a preview: Kadima head Tzipi Livni and Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu will go head-to-head, as Labor leader Ehud Barak tries to stay under everyone’s radar.

“The next general elections will be personal,” said Eyal Arad, the man behind Livni’s public image, after the foreign minister told President Shimon Peres on Sunday that her efforts to form a governing coalition had failed.

Her advisers say they are prepared for a fight and they already know how the campaign will look.

“The real battle will be between Livni and Netanyahu,” Arad told The Jerusalem Post.

He said Defense Minister Barak had no real chance to be the next prime minister.

“The real choice is between Livni and Netanyahu. Livni represents the new politics at its best. Livni is responsible, she has good judgment, she is reliable, practical and a national figure, and above all, her hands are clean.

“Netanyahu, on the other hand, represents the old politics, and joining forces with Shas and the extortion that we have witnessed doesn’t score them any points,” Arad said.

He said he believed that Netanyahu’s promises to Shas that it will be the first party he will work to bring into his future government harmed him, because these sort of promises appeal to Shas’s voters and not to Kadima’s and Labor’s.

via Jerusalem Post: Israeli advisers predict Livni and Netanyahu will battle

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