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U.S. and E.U. on Israeli Elections

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

As Israel’s political contenders Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu are sprinting for the finish line, both the United States and the European Union watch on with a careful eye.

Livni, of the centrist Kadima party, has claimed a victory in the general election. However, her rival, Binyamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party, has also declared himself triumphant. According to the BBC, the Kadima has the upper hand–albeit by only one seat in the Knesset. This has only electrified the process of jockeying for power, and talks of coalition formation thickens the already dense Israeli political atmosphere.

Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, Haaretz, has reported that the U.S. the E.U. have both expressed a firm desire for a Kadima-Likud coalition.

The U.S. official position is that it looks forward to “working with any government,” but in back-channel messages the Obama administration has made it clear it would like to see a unity government in Jerusalem over a narrow right-wing government which would in all likelihood result in a freeze in peace talks with the Palestinians.

In a move that would be have been deemed quite uncharacteristic several months ago, the E.U. has adopted a similar position.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief says a new unity government of Israel’s Kadima and Likud political parties would help Mideast peace talks.

This intensified push for sustaining and substantiating the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians is perhaps evidence of a revitalized relationship between the U.S. and the E.U. It will be interesting to follow the contours and effects of these positions on Israeli policy.

Jonathan Cross, Trinity ’10

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