Israel's Rightward Shift Sparks Worries

Americans Fear Peace Will Be Casualty of Election Results

The fast-shifting Israeli political scene has U.S. policymakers fearing the worst for the peace process after the January 22 elections.
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The fast-shifting Israeli political scene has U.S. policymakers fearing the worst for the peace process after the January 22 elections.

By Nathan Guttman

Published December 19, 2012, issue of December 21, 2012.
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Speaking at the Saban Forum on November 30, Lieberman made clear that he does not envision any chance for renewing peace talks with the Palestinians in the near future, and he argued that expanding settlement activity in the West Bank is Israel’s right.

New Yorker Editor David Remnick, who attended the forum, later wrote about a “great deal of despairing hallway talk about the state of Israeli politics” among Americans with ties to Democratic administrations, pointing not only to Lieberman, but also to the lack of any centrist alternative in Israeli politics.

Some of the leading moderate voices within the Likud, including Cabinet ministers Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, lost their primary bid and will not be part of the joint list, now called Likud-Beiteinu, in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, representatives of the settler movement and opponents of a two-state solution dominate the list.

Among them is Knesset member Danny Danon, who made it into the top 10 on the joint list and is likely to land a Cabinet post after the elections. Danon toured the United States in September, promoting his latest book and arguing, weeks before the presidential elections, that “Barack Obama is no friend of Israel.”

This could cause problems for Danon and his party in Washington down the road, but it did not seem to affect the young Knesset member’s fundraising efforts in the United States. Danon raised more than $90,000 from American donors during the recent primary election cycle, a higher amount than any other Israeli politician.

And while most Israeli candidates turn to members of the American Jewish community to fund their primary bids (non-Israeli citizens can donate only to primary races, not to parties running in the general elections), Danon succeeded in carving his own niche, tapping into a previously unknown reservoir of support. According to Israeli State Comptroller records, Danon raised $26,280 from Arkansas residents, most of them living in Fayetteville, and some involved with Christian organizations supportive of Israel.

“I am thankful to my supporters from Israel and abroad who support my policies and the clear and unapologetic way in which I state my positions on behalf of the State of Israel,” Danon said in a statement provided by a spokesman.


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