by Melissa Mahfouz
Special to iVoryTowerz
It's official. The change that is part of 2009 is no longer confined to the new Obama administration in the United States. My evidence: Israel's recent February elections that resulted in a significant transformation of the Knesset. The difference: The Knesset shifted to the right, dramatically. The catalysts for such a shift are innumerable: the recent attacks in Gaza; Hamas' spreading power within the Palestinian Authority, and the list goes on, and on, and on.
It now seems as if a peaceful (if that word can ever be applied to the region), even rudimentary agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis is impossible to come to fruition, at least for the time being. The Palestinian Authority and the Knesset are now fundamentally dominated by their more extremist factions. Now, a mere glimpse into regional politics portrays two disparate governing bodies that shall potentially suffer from further internal turmoil; Kadima and Likud, Hamas and Fatah. With this recent development and the Obama administration's "beating around the bush" failure to catalyze multilateral talks, I remain disheartened. Yes, the issue of peace clearly cannot be solved overnight, and yes, clearly it shall take more than a few scratches to go beyond the surface, but this conflict, now surpassing the 60 year mark, needs to become a priority.
The implications of this election are far-reaching. Will the Knesset be willing to meet, with a true vigor, at the negotiating table with the Palestinians? (The new leader of the Kadima party with the most votes in the Knesset, Tzipi Livni, has yet to form a government, if she can cobble together a coalition. Still in her position as the foreign minister, Livni recently noted Israel should be willing to give up land in negotiations to keep its Jewish and democratic heritage intact.) How will Palestine react to the Israeli shift? How will relations between the U.S. and Israel change, if at all? We are waiting for the answers from the region's leaders.
(The photo of Tzipi Livni, Israel's current foreign minister is by the World Economic Forum staff of the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland; the photo is from 2007 via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)
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by Melissa Mahfouz