U.S. Election Likely Won't Shift Israel Policy

Analysis

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By Reuters

Published October 31, 2012.
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Most Israelis would be reassured if Mitt Romney won next week’s U.S. presidential election, feeling they had an unquestioning friend rather than a dispassionate critic in the White House.

But any change would probably be a question of style over substance, analysts say, with a Republican administration expected to follow the path already laid out by President Barack Obama when it comes to Iran and the Palestinians.

The allies are too joined at the hip on fundamental challenges for the head to make that much difference.

“There is a great deal of continuity in foreign policy,” said Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and member of the ruling conservative Likud party. “Things don’t change overnight if a new president takes power.”

Obama, a Democrat, never enamoured himself to the Israeli people, nor to their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. leader was accused of trying to browbeat Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians, particularly in his efforts to halt settlement-building in the occupied West Bank, and of refusing to impose red lines on Iran’s atomic project.

While Obama also oversaw ever-closer military ties between the two allies, Israelis remembered the perceived slights - such as his failure to find time to see Netanyahu when he flew to New York last month to address the United Nations.

He is also disparaged for not visiting Israel as president. There again, only four of the last 11 U.S. presidents managed to make the trip, with only two coming their first term.

A survey released on Sunday by Tel Aviv University showed Israeli Jews preferred Romney to Obama by almost a three to one margin - the inverse of the predicted American Jewish vote.


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