Are Political Elections Shaping the Future of Israel?

CNN and TAU host joint panel on national elections and US-Israel relations

Jonathan Mann, Prof. Yossi Shain, Dana Weiss, Dr. Yossi Bell
Jonathan Mann, Prof. Yossi Shain,
Dana Weiss, Dr. Yossi Bellin
and Dov Weissglass.
Photo: Michal Roche-Ben Ami

Just days before Barack Obama won a second term in office, Tel Aviv University and CNN explored the implications with an expert panel on the university campus. Noted journalists, politicians and academics came together to discuss how the outcomes of the US election and the Israeli election slated for January could affect relations between the two countries. They factored in the problem of Iran's nuclear program as well.

The expert panel was moderated by veteran CNN journalist Jonathan Mann and included Prof. Yossi Shain, head of TAU's Abba Eban Program of Diplomacy, Dov Weissglass, Bureau Chief to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Minister Yossi Beilin, and journalist Dana Weiss of Israel's Channel 2 News.

In pre-election polls, Israelis showed an overwhelming preference for Mitt Romney, reflecting the belief that he would be a better friend to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not been shy about his own preference, noted Prof. Shain: "The reason behind the acrimony between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu [...] is because the two did not agree," he said. "Netanyahu's claim, at least in the hearts of Israelis and Republicans and many American Jews, is that there was no commitment with passion" in regards to Obama's attempt to prevent Iran from crossing the atomic threshold.

Now, with Obama set to begin his second term in office, Weissglass wondered whether the decision to support Romney was wise. "[Israel's] dependence on the US is now almost total," he said, adding his belief that if full American pressure is exerted on Iran through sanctions, the Islamic Republic's economy would likely collapse.

Former Minister Beilin had a more positive outlook on the future relationship between the two countries, noting that both parties mentioned Israel numerous times throughout the campaign process, a testament to the importance of the Jewish community in Israel. He also expressed the belief that Israel is aware that Obama will try to push the peace process along, while Romney would have done the opposite, and that Obama's re-election will have greater implications for Israel than the Knesset elections in January.

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