Opinion: There′s No Israeli Obama | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.02.2009
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Opinion: There's No Israeli Obama

As much as Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu have attempted to evoke the American ideal, there is no Israeli Obama. Instead, "change" has turned out to be just an empty campaign slogan, says DW's Peter Philipp.


There is no winner in this election. Livni's Kadima party may have a slight edge, but if you add together all the potential coalition partners, it's still not enough for a majority government. However, the head of the opposition Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, could scrape together enough partners to form a majority, even though Likud did not emerge from the election as the strongest party.

Both leaders -- Livni as well as Netanyahu -- basically have to admit that they can't really govern, as widely diverse coalitions have always had a short life span in Israel.

What about the peace process?

And the peace process? This question continues to be asked outside Israel, but it hasn't been asked from within Israel for a long time. But even those abroad would be misled to think that this election was about peace or at least a normalization of relations. Netanyahu has done enough in recent weeks to show how little regard he has for the conditions for peace on which there is international consensus. And his potential partners on the right aren't bothered about the peace process at all.

Kadima and the social democratic Labour party can't exactly position themselves now as the proponents of peace. Labour party head Ehud Barak once partially carried the blame for the failure of the Camp David talks with PLO leader Arafat, and as the current defense minister today, he was largely responsible for the scale of the war in Gaza. And while Kadima head Livni may speak of peace, her party has in recent years systematically created barriers to peace, in the form of new or expanded settlements in the West Bank. The more Israel builds there, the less this region can be factored into negotiations, even though it's at the center of the land that would be used in the creation of a Palestinian state.

In Jerusalem, same old same old

People in Israel like to speak of political camps: the nationalist right-wing camp and the leftist peace camp which hold the balance. In reality, there's only a nationalist and an ultra-nationalist camp, neither of which offer a concept for peace. And the voters don't seem to miss it -- the citizens have long abandoned any hope for a peaceful solution. Now, it's just about security, or would-be security, without any understanding that the violence used to achieve this only creates more unrest, and less security.

Who will govern in Jerusalem, then? It could be days before we know for sure. But in the end, it'll just be a change in personnel, and not a real political alternative.

Peter Philipp is Deutsche Welle's chief correspondent (dc)

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