Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Talks About Rift with Obama Hurts Likud Campaign

While some might suggest that any comment by Peres, Livni or Olmert raising concerns about Israel's future amid Netanyahu's fragile relationship with Obama, will just result in Likud voters coming home to stick up for Netanyahu, my colleague Chemi Shalev suggests the opposite.  

The Netanyahu campaign is extremely concerned about "the soft core supporters: those who are not too enthusiastic about Netanyahu but far less so about any of the alternatives; those who may actually support a two-state solution in theory but have no doubt that it is not achievable in practice; those who don’t support the construction of settlements outside the so-called “blocs” but have come to believe that Israel has been building to its settlers’ content while enjoying four years of security, prosperity and, relatively speaking, international popularity as well."

"These voters may not love Obama and perhaps not even trust him, but they would prefer to believe that Israel’s prime minister can get along with him or, at the very least, contain him, as Netanyahu appears to have done during the president’s first term in office. Netanyahu’s campaign depends on convincing such moderate Likud-Beiteinu voters that the prime minister can maintain his careful balancing act during his next tenure as well," Shalev writes. 

Therefore, "a last minute move to the left by wavering centrist Likud voters and a break in its direction among the 20 percent of undecided could upset the apple cart and create a virtual tie between the two blocs that would utterly change the dynamics of post-election maneuvers."

Having said that, not only should Netanyahu be concerned of losing votes to the right, but also fear losing votes to Livni and Yechimovich. The last thing Netanyahu needs now is  to contend with Obama’s attempt to drop some reality confetti over the celebrating Likudniks who think its all locked up.

"Netanyahu is well aware that it ain’t really over until it’s really over, and now he has to fret that perhaps it ain’t really over yet," Shalev concludes.