Tags: Barack Obama | Iran | Israel | Middle East | War on Terrorism | Netanyahu | Israel

Observers to Newsmax: Netanyahu Win Would 'Deeply Disappoint' Obama

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 10:44 PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apparent victory in the country's elections Tuesday will not sit very well with President Barack Obama, Rabbi Andrew Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Newsmax.

"If initial results hold, it means Netanyahu will be given time to forge a new coalition government, a result that will certainly deeply disappoint President Obama and some European leaders, who were hoping Israelis would swap out an intractable 'hawk' for a more flexible 'dove,'" Cooper said.

Based in Los Angeles, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is a Jewish-rights organization. Cooper is associate dean.

"These leaders assumed that with Bibi [Netanyahu] out of the way, it would be easier to reach a quick final deal with Iran and hasten a two-state solution in the Holy Land before President Obama leaves office," Cooper said.

Netanyahu's victory claim proved that "Israelis' socio-economic worries were narrowly trumped by fears of an aggressive and nuclearizing Iran, as well as continuing terrorist attacks from Hamas and the absence of a reliable Palestinian partner for peace."

Netanyahu claimed victory based on exit polls suggesting he and his Likud Party could form a governing coalition despite the results showing him dead even with rival Isaac Herzog and the Zionist Union.

"Against all odds, a great victory for Likud," Netanyahu told cheering supporters at his election headquarters in Tel Aviv. He said he had spoken to leaders of other right-wing parties and urged them to form a "strong and stable" government with him without delay.

He had earlier claimed victory in a similar message on Twitter: "A great victory for the Likud."

But Herzog said afterward that "everything is still open" and that he already had begun speaking to party leaders about forming a government.

According to exit polls for Israel's Channel 2 TV, the Likud Party picked up 28 seats to  Zionist Union's 27 in the 120-member parliament, or Knesset. Channel 10, revising its survey several hours after voting ended, put the race at 27-26 for Likud. Channel 1 had both parties tied at 27.

Moshe Kahlon, a onetime Netanyahu ally who now remains critical of his economic record, was poised to become the kingmaker. He served as communications minister and now heads up a new centrist party.

His Kulanu group was expected to pick up nine to 10 seats, according to polls.

After the balloting ended, Kahlon said he had not ruled out a partnership with either Likud or Zionist Union.

Likud had trailed in pre-election polls as recently as Saturday. On Monday, Netanyahu distanced himself from his 2009 agreement to work to establish a Palestinian state — and accused left-wing groups of trying to remove him from power by busing in Arab-Israeli voters to polling stations.

The statement brought a strong rebuke from Washington and accusations of racism from Netanyahu's opponents.

The exit polls gave right-wing and religious parties, Netanyahu's traditional partners, about 54 seats — and left-leaning factions, 43. Those figures also fell far short of a governing majority in the Knesset.

Turnout was about 72 percent, heavier than the last election in 2013. Twenty-five parties were on the ballot in this election.

No party has ever won an outright majority in Israel's 67-year history, however, and it may be weeks before the country has a new government. Netanyahu will remain prime minister until a new administration is sworn in.

Republicans cheered Netanyahu's apparent win, with Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York saying that it flew in the face of efforts by the Obama administration to unseat him.

"The president, who has apologized for American greatness, should use this opportunity to apologize for his team and his allies doing just about everything in their power to try to oust the Israeli prime minister," he told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News.

Zeldin, the only Jewish Republican member of Congress, noted a Fox report of a bipartisan investigation by a Senate subcommittee into the activities of a group that may have been involved in anti-Netanyahu efforts in Israel.

"It was unprecedented," he said. "The fact is, he is probably disappointed as he watches these results come back in the White House.

"There was ACORN organizing for an American-type effort going on the ground trying to oust the prime minister and it didn't work," he said, referring to the community activist group that has interacted with Obama on several occasions.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he believed Netanyahu won because "he truly believed Israel's existence was really on the line" and that was why he spoke to Congress earlier this month — over President Obama's objections.

Netanyahu had been invited by GOP House Speaker John Boehner. Many Democrats boycotted the address, which Obama panned as offering "nothing new."

"He did not do it because it was good for him politically," Huckabee, who is considering a run for the presidency in 2016, told Erin Burnett on CNN. "It was really a political disaster to come to the United States against the wishes of the Obama administration, not that Israelis support Obama, but they don't want to do anything that upsets the relationship — and they thought that could possibly do it.

"It was risky on his part. I think it was the act of a Churchill, not a Chamberlain," Huckabee said. "It was the act of a statesman, not a politician. And it was a gutsy move."

Cooper told Newsmax that most likely Netanyahu would forge a broad coalition focused primarily on stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and other terrorist threats.

"If Isaac Herzog lands up leading the Jewish state, he would struggle mightily to thwart a nuclear Tehran, a regime that continues to call for the Jewish state’s annihilation," he said. "Israel’s next prime minister will also have to deal with a new strategic threat from Iran and its Hezbollah terrorist lackeys as they brazenly prepare a new front on Syrian territory adjacent to the Golan Heights.

"It would not surprise me if Netanyahu also reaches out to some of the very people who tried to depose him — especially those who gave strong voice to economic and social concerns," he said.

Huckabee told CNN that a Netanyahu win was "good for America because it makes sure that, not just Iran, but all of the players in the Gulf area understand that Israel is looking first and foremost at their security.

"I am absolutely confident that not only is there celebration in Israel that care about national security, there's celebration in Saudi Arabia, in Jordan, Egypt, the Emirates.

"These nations — the last thing they want, the last thing they can tolerate — would be Iran having nuclear capacity," Huckabee said. "This will be very unpopular in the White House. It's very popular among the moderate Muslim nations throughout the Middle East."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apparent victory in the country's elections Tuesday will not sit very well with President Barack Obama, Rabbi Andrew Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Newsmax.
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Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 10:44 PM
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