May 21, 2009

Fewer trust Netanyahu and increased support for Obama among Israeli’s

Our friends over at Avaaz just released a poll following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. this week showing that a majority of Israeli’s trust Barack Obama more than Netanyahu.  59% of the Israeli population said they view Obama as “honest and trustworthy” whereas only 31% said the same for their own Prime Minister.
Netanyahu who was elected in February of this year is a hardliner who does not support a two state solution. During the Bush years the peace process was never whole-heartedly pursued by the American government. Now, however, with Obama being elected, a new era seems to have begun in terms of American engagement in the Middle East.
Looking back in history, the more aggressive Israeli policies have been (such as expanding settlements, wars in Gaza and Lebanon, etc), the further away we have gotten from achieving our goals in the region.  And more recently, more aggressive Israeli policies have actually been counterproductive to Israeli security objectives.
To me, this new Avaaz poll makes it seem like, especially after Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S., the Israeli people are convinced Obama is more serious about bringing an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a view that is reflected among the Palestinians.
It is at an interesting point in time that the two governments meet, both on quite the opposite side of the spectrum. This time around, it seems like the U.S. will not settle for anything less than a two state solution and the people of Israel seem to be in favor of this. Polls made by J Street [PCD1] here in the U.S. show that a majority of the Jewish-American population are in favor of the same thing as the majority of the Israeli population, which is that Obama should get directly involved in the peace process and take the lead in negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
Throughout the years even political figures such as former White House spokesman Joe Lockhart have found Netanyahu to be not the most trustworthy person and described him as “a liar and a cheat”. The fact that even political figures find him to be so difficult to work with could have now become reflected in the general populous who simply want a peaceful solution to the conflict rather than more armed struggle, which some agree seems to be where Netanyahu’s rhetoric could lead the country. Still, this is the same Israeli population who just elected Netanyahu to be Prime Minister in a fair election.
Israeli foreign minister Lieberman recently said that the U.S. (and with that Obama) “accepts all Israel’s decisions”. [PCD2] Let’s hope that Obama does accept Israel’s decision, not necessarily its government’s, but rather that of its people.

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