A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 20, 2009--Israel Contemplates President Obama
Today Israel's news was dominated by one story, the inauguration of Barak Obama to the Presidency of the United States. Israel worked hard to ensure that ending the recent war with Hamas would not be on the top of President's Obama "to do" list. All ears were tuned to his speech, wondering what he would say–– would he specifically mention what happened in Gaza, or even the Israeli Arab conflict as a whole. Israelis could relax on this matter. Obama's speech, while soaring with rhetoric, was very short on specifics. He spoke in general about a new era in relations with the Muslim world. He did however, speak out strongly and specifically against terrorism. Finally he spoke the following line- "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, NOT what you destroy." This line can easily be applied to Hamas.
There is no question the Obama administration will be more ambitious than the Bush administration in trying to negotiate some sort of agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. With his agenda so full, it's hard to see the Mid East as being his most important priority. It might do members of his administration good to read today's article by Shlomo Avineri, entitled: Can Obama do It
In it Avineri demolishes the claim of all those commentators who assert that if only the US did this or that in one of the negotiations things would have worked out.
Today, Foreign Minister Livni publicly stated what has been said behind close doors for the last few weeks. She clearly linked the future opening of the crossings into Gaza with the release of Gilad Shalit. She made it clear that if Hamas wanted to obtain their goal of reopening the crossings, it would only happen if Shalit was released. Livni also made clear that any rocket fire would be responded to by air attacks, there would no longer be any holding back. That is in fact what took place today after mortars were fired into Israel.