Midterms bad for bipartisanship, good for peace process, ex-ambassador says

Former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the midterm results will strengthen President Trump's resolve to end the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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November 8, 2018 03:45
1 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) embraces Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) embraces Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

 
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The results of the midterm elections will make it more difficult for Israel to maintain bipartisan support among American politicians and the public, Deputy Minister and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

But they have likely strengthened US President Donald Trump’s resolve to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the “deal of the century” he has drafted, Oren said.

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He spoke after Republicans lost 27 seats in, and their control of, the House of Representatives. The new Democratic majority, 222-196, gave the party its first ability in two years to curb Trump’s actions.

Oren said he does not believe the midterm results were a victory for anyone, but that they would have an impact on two matters critical to Israel, because the elections only further divided America.

The issue, he said, was not the numbers but the politicians who were elected, both in the House and in the Senate, which maintained its Republican majority.

Some of those congressmen “are much more radical than the people who preceded them,” and that will deepen the political polarization in the United States, Oren said.

Israel was already struggling to maintain bipartisan support, and now that struggle just grew more difficult, he said.

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“Bipartisan support is a strategic national interest,” he said.

There are people who want to make Israel a left or right issue and then there are those who are not just critical of Israel but anti-Israel, he said.

“Keeping Israel above that partisan fray will become increasingly challenging,” Oren said.

But the midterms can be a positive force to propel the peace process forward, he said, particularly if the Democrats have some success at blocking Trump’s domestic agenda.

In that scenario, Trump will turn to the place where he has “unlimited maneuverability foreign policy,” Oren said.

“The low hanging fruit from the Washington perspective is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is already vigorously and robustly pursuing his deal of the century,” Oren said.

“It is going to be even more robust if he wants to aduce that in the 2020 election as his great foreign policy achievement,” Oren said.

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