Israel backs Romney, Palestine indifferent

2012-11-02 10:00

Jerusalem - Israel may be openly hoping that Republican challenger Mitt Romney will end up stealing the presidency from Barack Obama, but for the Palestinians it makes little difference who takes over the White House.

With the US presidential race drawing to a close, Israelis have come out strongly in favour of the Republican nominee who they believe is likely to be a better friend to the Jewish state than President Obama.

Figures published in a Peace Index poll showed a clear majority of Jewish Israelis – 57% - believe that when it comes to Israel's interests, Romney would be the best president, compared with 22% for Obama.

"Israelis are a bit suspicious of Obama and prefer Romney," said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US-Israeli relations at Bar Ilan University.

"This is because of Obama's tough attitude - personally to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, [and] also on the diplomatic level towards Israel," he said.

Netanyahu himself "would prefer Romney, because he feels that relations with Obama were tense, that there was not enough co-operation - neither personally nor nationally," Gilboa explained.

The issue of nuclear Iran

Ties have never been easy between Netanyahu and Obama - their public meetings have often been visibly tense, marked by awkward body language, and the two have differed over key issues, most recently over how to handle the Iran nuclear file.

While both Obama and Romney were on the same page in their attitude towards Israel's security needs, there was a significant difference between the two on the key issue of a nuclear Iran, Gilboa said.

Netanyahu has pushed for a much more hardline approach that could include pre-emptive military action, while Obama has preferred to allow diplomacy and sanctions dissuade Iran from building the bomb.

From Netanyahu's perspective, "Obama is against any Israeli use of force, and won't use force himself" against Iran, he said.

"Romney won't use force himself, but would let Netanyahu carry out a military action if he chose to do so."

Despite some Israeli media and conservative US Jews portraying Obama as giving Israel the cold shoulder, his administration has done a lot for Israel's security over the past four years, said Peter Medding, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Little Palestinian enthusiasm

"The issue really for Israel is, irrespective of who you want, security or defence," he said, adding there was "plenty of evidence" to show the Obama administration had done a great deal to bolster Israel's security.

Although it was no secret that Netanyahu would prefer Romney to be elected, the main issue was a president who would watch out for Israel's back, he said.

"The consensus is that the personal relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is not good, but having said that, you then look at the record of what Obama and his administration have done," he said.

"If you're engaged in politics and statesmanship at that level, you have to relate to the issues as they are and not to the persons who are representing them."

On the Palestinian side, there is little enthusiasm about the election.

With peace negotiations on hold for more than two years, Obama no longer inspires the enthusiasm he once did among Palestinians who say the identity of the next US president will not change anything.

"The situation in the United States is known - they will support Israel whoever the next American president is," said Muhanned Abdelhamid, a political analyst from the West Bank town of Ramallah.

"The United States adapts itself to the Israeli reality and the nature of the government in Israel and not the other way around, which means US positions towards Israel are the same whether it is Netanyahu's Israel or [Avigdor] Lieberman's," he said referring to Israel's ultranationalist foreign minister.

Rekindling peace process

Any optimism sparked by Obama's election four years ago has long since dissipated in the cold light of weakening US stands on issues like Israeli settlement building, said Abdel Majid Sweilem, a political scientist from Al-Quds University.

"I don't think there is any possibility that the United States will drastically change its policy in the Middle East from what we are used to, whoever is the next US president," he said.

Earlier this year, Romney came under fire for saying the Palestinians had "no interest whatsoever" in peace and indicating he would not make any serious bid as president to solve the Middle East conflict.

But Gilboa suggested that a victory by Romney, who was unlikely to exert much pressure on Israel over negotiations or its settlement building policy, could actually help rekindle the stagnant peace process.

"The Palestinians thought that Obama would do the work for them - that they'd get a deal in which Israel would make concessions, but they would not have to," he said.

"That's why they were so insistent all the time."

But if they see Romney elected president, it could have the opposite effect. "They could say: 'We should enter negotiations after all'," he said.

  • - 2012-11-02 10:05

    Obama has been supportive of Israel, but he is perceived as internationally weak president.

      omo.naija.750 - 2012-11-02 11:21

      Why does it always have to be about Israel?? Why can't Isreal solve it's own sh*t.The USA has it's own problem and can not continue to nanny Isreal. War is bad as no one wins that is why Obama has been careful with the Iran issue.What did the US or the world gain from Bush's invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan?? Nothing except to pit Muslims against Christians. As human beings we are an extremely flawed species because we just can't seem to get it in our greasy skulls that war only serves to destroy. Israel and Palestine can easily resolve their problems and co - exist but the human condition will not let them. Americans need some peace and quiet to get their house in order and Obama is the best candidate at the moment to do that.Romney has lied,played dirty tricks and flip flopped too much on his campaign trail that i can't believe that anyone still takes him seriously.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-11-02 10:27

    Palestinians are indifferent because they don't have the money to bribe US politicians! - 2012-11-02 10:31

      Around 80% of US Jews will vote for Obama this year. Obama received 86% of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election. Those that view Obama as bad for Israel are the evangelical Christians that number over 100 million Americans or around 37% of the population – these people believe that it is their religious duty to shore up a Jewish presence in the holy land. In fact people speak about a Jewish lobby and Jewish money but this is just anti-Israel propaganda - many seem to forget that Jews make up less then one percent of the American population – the truth is that Israel’s support stems from American Christians rather then Jews. While the evangelicals make up the single largest religious domination in the United States, other Christian groups also support Israel in overwhelming numbers much like the American Buddhist and Hindu communities. Stats are that most American Jews don’t support Israel as much as their Christian neighbours.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-11-02 11:07

      It is not numbers that matter but the message that gets relayed to the voters and the ability to relay those messages. Palestinians issues get no significant coverage whatsoever on US MSM, unless it's negative. The Jews have enough media control to define issues and have the financial ability to bribe/elect the politicians that will make the legal changes (US foreign policy towards Israel/Palestinian) they want and that is why politicians court them. Ironically this what Netayahoo was quoted to have said: “My opinion of Christian Zionists? They’re scum. But don’t tell them that. We need all the useful idiots we can get right now.”

      lesvokli.pitsiladi - 2012-11-02 11:44

      fidel - do you believe the Jews are not entitled to a homeland?

      msimelelo.m - 2012-11-02 12:50

      It is written in the Torra (jewish bible) that Israelis are \forbidden from having their own state or land). Ask any non-zionist jew this and they will tell you the same. Judaism is the true jewish religion, zionism is not a religion but is a political idea that is not even 100 years old. Check your facts please people!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-11-03 16:58

      @Lesvokli Stupid questions have no answers!

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-11-03 17:45

      Fidel, there is nothing stupid about Lesvokli's question, and it is a simple one to answer. Your stated opposition to anything that Israel stands for is answer enough.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-11-03 18:17

      Hello to you too Larry. Do I have to preface every "criticism" of Israeli policy or any other criticism with some kind of emotive acknowledgement that Israelis deserve a homeland? That's the rhetoric of Stalinism! Besides, what does his question have anything to do with this story or my post. That was a stupid question indeed, a self serving practice that enables some abstract commentary that has no relation to the facts at hand. It gets tiring to engage some of the donkeys on these threads!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-03 18:24

      No, but you should change your belief that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern day Uncle Tom.

  • gary.desousa.7 - 2012-11-02 10:34

    Actually he has been indifferent or neutral in my opnion and the quicker he is out and a strong anti terriorist president gets in and sorts the thing out the better. Same as here support the terrorists not Israel.

      derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-11-02 10:48

      Sounds to me you'd be happy with Bush back in power in the US and P.W. Botha in SA.

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-11-02 10:46

    Makes no diffence to me either, only diffence is the colour.

  • Eterni80 - 2012-11-02 10:59

    Obama has this one in the bag courtesy of Sandy.

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-11-02 11:21

      He just wish Sandy came a little earlier so they had more time to rebuild!

  • steele.oyle - 2012-11-02 11:42

    The media including news24 seemed to be obsessed with Israeli article/opinions. Why not ask China, India and South Korea which presidential candidate they would prefer.

  • lesvokli.pitsiladi - 2012-11-02 11:42

    I support a 2 state solution for Israel, Palestine and I am against war with Iran because why must millions suffer for issues they cannot change??? I support any government against war. If Obama is against war, then he gets my vote.

  • dewaldt.duplessis.5 - 2012-11-02 12:05

    Mitt Romney for President. He is a very powerful businessman and very intelligent. Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist. If Israel falls it would be world war 3. All the East block countries are terrorist and communists\r\ntherefor they are allies with Iran.

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-11-02 14:06

    Only idiots and warmongers will vote for twit romney...but then americans voted bush for 2nd term ! Need we say anything more

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-03 18:26

    Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what is sometimes wrongly call "occupied land". There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children. Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people, one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys.

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