Palestinians Give Thumbs Down to Israeli Election Results

Many fear that the success of far-right parties makes progress in peace talks much less likely.

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By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

Palestinian reactions to Israel's elections Tuesday were entirely negative, differing mainly in the degree of disapproval. The general view is that the Israeli right won the election and thus it doesn't really matter who becomes prime minister. Neither Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu or Kadima's Tzipi Livni would be able to move toward peace even if he (or she) wants to. The mildest reactions came from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. Al Arabiya reports:

President Mahmoud Abbas said whatever the next Israeli cabinet is, it would be obliged to continue peace talks and meet international obligations. "The ascent of the Israeli right does not worry us," he told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.His Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters Israel must meet international obligations. "We imagine that the expectations of the international community (toward Israel) will be the same as ours," he said.

However Sa'eb Erekat, a chief Palestinian negotiator and longtime unofficial PA spokesman, was more frankly pessimistic, as Al Jazeera reports:

"Any form of government as a result of these elections will not accept the two-state solution, they will not accept the agreements signed, they will continue with the settlements activities and the incursions and the attacks," Erekat told Al Jazeera."I think we will consider them an un-partner."

The PA's official daily newspaper went considerably further. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority's daily, wrote:

"The substance is the same: murders, settlements and destruction." "We expect a continuation of the same Israeli policies, renewed aggression in Gaza, the continuation of settlements in the West Bank and the demolition of houses in Jerusalem."

Not surprisingly, the harshest comments of all came from Hamas, as the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center reports from Gaza:

Hamas political bureau member Mohammed Nazzal pointed out that there are no substantial differences between the Zionist parties except their use of force during their genocidal wars on the Palestinian people.

"Hamas is not concerned with who will form the Israeli government whether Livni or Netanyahu because Livni used internationally banned phosphorous bombs in its war against the Palestinians in Gaza, so what Netanyahu can do more than that unless he intends to use a nuclear bomb to kill our people," the Hamas leader underlined.

Arab media score Israeli public for shifting right
In Israel's neighboring countries, some media singled out far-right candidate Avigdor Lieberman in particular, while others reserved their sharpest barbs for Netanyahu, considered much more likely than Livni to emerge from coalition negotiations as the new prime minister, a process expected to take weeks. Others wrote that the problem didn't begin with individual Israeli politicians but with the Israeli public. The Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reports:

Arab newspapers criticized the Israeli public for demonstrating large support for right-wing parties. "How is it possible that a society, aspiring to peace can give a fascist like this (Avigdor Lieberman) such broad support, giving him the possibility of one day becoming prime minister of Israel?" Egypt's state-owned Al-Ahram daily wrote. Opinions of Netanyahu, who has campaigned as a security hardliner pledging to topple the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip, are little better. "For those who don't know him, Benjamin Netanyahu feels the Arabs only understand the language of violence," Egypt's state-owned Al-Gomhuriya wrote. "Simply put ... if the peace process is encountering obstacles at the moment ... with Netanyahu it will be hindered by several thousand mines."

Syria's official Ath-Thawra daily wrote that Arab nations should respond to the Israeli election by backing resistance movements. "There's no difference between Livni and Netanyahu. Their coming to power will change nothing of the current realities." In Jordan, the English-language Jordan Times wrote that the results make "little difference" for the Arabs. "While Israelis may have differed over who to vote for among party leaders in their country, for the Palestinians, Arabs in general, the differences between the candidates are marginal, and of little or no consequence."