It's risky to predict. 

 
We might be able to do a reasonable job of understanding what has happened, and what is happening. 
 
The recent past and present are likely to affect the near future, but things can go in different directions. Or stay the same.
 
Politics is a lively field, capable of responding to shifting alliances and priorities.
 
The Middle East may be more unsettled than any other region, especially now with several civil wars among Muslims, and the Israel-Palestinian issue always capable of at least a minor explosion.
 
There was an event Wednesday in a Bedouin village, where the police assembled to destroy illegal dwellings, a Bedouin ran down and killed an officer, the police killed that culprit, and an Arab MK was injured in the melee. Other Bedouins plus Arab politicians are behind the family claiming that the culprit was a peace loving chap killed without justification by the police.
 
With all that, however, Israelis seem to be in at least a limited period of little movement from what we have now. Which is not to say that politicians here and there will be quiet. That would be expecting too much from the likes of Benyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, Donald Trump, and all those supporting and opposing them, as well as Obama and friends..
 
However, there seems to be a confluence of events here and elsewhere that point to limited movement in the near future.
 
It would be foolhardy to give a timeline to what is called the near future, and there might always be an event that rolls into something big.. 
 
Of the two governments most important for these fingers, that of the United States seems certain to be entering a period of limited movement, while that of Israel may not be too different.
 
Donald Trump aspires to a dramatic 100 days of major movement, modeled after FDR's early days. However, he isn't Franklin Roosevelt,  and the United States is not in anything like the Depression that prevailed in 1933.
 
His bombast with respect to health care, illegal immigrants, and a wall along the Mexican border has already come up against reservations from enough Republicans to undercut a party majority in both Houses of Congress. His reputation of being an aggressive maker of deals seems unlikely to work in politics. He'll have more latitude in foreign affairs, and he may be fantasizing the US as the lone super power, but his bold pronouncements about NATO, China, and Russia, whether positive or negative, may not survive the reality that his country depends on others for its good life.
 
Closer to these fingers, Bibi is finding himself in problems of his own making.
 
A scatological description is that the shit is above his ankles, or maybe his knees, and climbing higher. He and his wife have been questioned several times by the police, "under warning" (anything you say may be used against you), and are due for more sessions. Their older son has also been questioned. The owner and editor of Yedioth Aharonot, the editor of Israel Hayom have been questioned, and Sheldon Adelson is said to be in line. When the American spends some of his billions in order to influence things in Israel, he opens himself to our rules of the game, and the police who enforce them.
 
Commentators are quarreling if enough has been revealed to cause a criminal indictment that would force the PM's resignation, but they are widely agreed that the material known so far is damaging in a public and political sense.
 
The missing link is the lack of an obvious successor as leader of Likud and the government, or a party that could replace Likud as the creator of a coalition. However, it's likely that Likudniks are sharpening their knives even while speaking out in support of Netanyahu, and agreeing with his mantra that, with respect to suspicions of corruption, "there is nothing and there will be nothing."
 
This is a time to remind ourselves that cemeteries are filled with individuals who were irreplaceable.
 
While Americans and Israelis are pondering what may become of their political leadership and the policy changes on offer, Palestinians and other Muslims seem to be even further from a capacity to do anything significant.
 
Mahmoud Abbas' support in the West Bank is about as low as it can get, and the chances of any united action between the West Bank and Gaza are on one or the other side of 0. Abbas' Fatah might not survive without the actions by Israeli security forces against Hamas and gangs even more extreme.
 
Muslims further afield are busy killing one another. The Arab League can barely muster its members to condemn Israel, and are hopeless with respect to anything more practical. Israel's major worries, Hezbollah and Iran, are up to their kishkes in Lebanon, with Iran also busy in Yemen. Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia issue occasional damnations of Israel, but  are cooperating with Israel on matters of greater importance.
 
French and American lame ducks may have had wet dreams about the Security Council and the Paris Peace Conference, but nothing substantial has come from either. Obama and Kerry have come in for at least as much condemnation as praise for trying to pre-empt the party that won the election, and the French fell short of getting the EU to endorse anything expressed in Paris.
 
We can't be certain about any of this. There is enough enmity and weapons in the Middle East to cause sudden change, and uncertainty is likely to mark both American and Israeli politics for some time.
 
Politicians everywhere may be sweating. But us common folk may be able to relax, at least until the next note.
 
Jewish DNA reflects 3,000 of nervous concern for the next shoe to drop.
 
Now we may see what happens when Israelis are able to relax.
 
Comments welcome, including those more fearful than mine.


-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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