After weeks of waiting, the obvious result has come: President Shimon Peres has asked Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government. This was the only real likely outcome due to several factors:

1: Israel’s hard right-turn in the last election leaves Likud more equipped to form a government than Kadima. Hard right parties made significant gains, Kadima only came out on top by literally one seat, and Labor is pretty much in the toilet. Also either party would have to make an unholy alliance with Yisrael Beiteinu, and having them under Likud’s roof is (ideologically, if not practically) somewhat less unholy.

2: Livni took a crack at forming a government after winning leadership of Kadima and Ehud Olmert stepped down as PM with an approval rating that would make George Bush look like Barack Obama. She failed spectacularly, mostly because the religious parties she needed to join her took the opportunity to lay out a list of demands she couldn’t meet, which led to the current election. Peres chose the party leader more able to form a coalition, and in addition to being favored in the current political environment Bibi also has a pervious tenure as PM under his belt.

The biggest implications of all this in our hemisphere is the extent to which this is likely to complicate Obama’s foreign policy plans for the mideast: Bibi is famously hawkish, and basically campaigned on bringing the already crippled peace process to a complete halt. This is especially disappointing given the peace feelers that were being exchanged between Israel and Syria, and especially dangerous given the still delicate and complex diplomatic tango the US is dancing with Iran. Unless George Mitchell is given the authority to outfit Bibi with a muzzle, expect the mideast to remain as delightfully fucked up as we’ve all wearily grown to expect.

Advertisements