Barack Obama, for his part, has remained largely silent, declaring that America has "only one president at a time." But his silence is militated as much by his desire to see Livni get elected as by any support for Israel or reticence to speak out while Bush still serves. He needs Livni to win just as Bill Clinton needed the Labor Party and Shimon Peres to win while he was president.
If Israel is to be led by Netanyahu, Obama will be in perpetual conflict with the tough Israeli leader. He will constantly be constrained to try to hold Netanyahu back from military attacks on Iran and on Hamas and Hezbollah, and he won't bring Netanyahu to any negotiations until the Israeli leader feels he has a partner with whom to negotiate.
Netanyahu is not going to play the game of pretending that the emperor has clothes by believing that the Palestinian Authority represents anyone but itself. He will demand that the Palestinians show their interest in peace through negotiations by electing leaders who want to negotiate. Otherwise, land for peace will be DOA in the Israeli cabinet.
So it is in everybody's interest that Livni win, except for Israel's. Because Hamas and Iran represent real threats, not just phantoms, Israel will be ill served if the current demonstration of toughness leads them to elect doves for the next five years. Doves won't defeat terrorists.
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