Analysis: The Likud list and the world

What matters to foreign governments is the bottom line. Can a Netanyahu government deliver?

bibi 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
bibi 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
While some woke up Tuesday morning to the new Likud list and smiled with satisfaction, and others gulped at the number of candidates with a hard-right bent, the reaction of policy-makers abroad was probably pretty much a shrug. With the exception of those manning the Israel desks at various foreign ministries around the world, the question of whether Moshe Feiglin's endorsed candidates made it into the Likud's top 10 slots, whether Dan Meridor was ranked in front of Gila Gamliel, or what happened to Tal Brody and Assaf Hefetz really doesn't matter all that much. What matters to governments abroad is whether Binyamin Netanyahu, if, as the polls are currently predicting, he wins the elections in February, he can deliver the goods. What matters to governments abroad is whether Netanyahu will continue to negotiate with the Palestinians, whether he will continue to talk with the Syrians, and whether his party - a party which has proven in the past that it can make life difficult for its leaders - will let him make good on promises he will ultimately have to make on a wide variety of issues. The list that the Likud voters elected on Monday makes one thing clear: Much of Netanyahu's time and energy is going to have to be expended just getting his own party to accept his various initiatives and ideas, let alone getting the government to accept them, and then the Knesset. Regardless, foreign leaders will obviously have little patience for arguments that certain things might not be possible because of party considerations. What matters to them is the bottom line. Can a Netanyahu government deliver? While it is too early to gauge the ramifications of the Likud vote on the diplomatic situation, one direct result of Monday's primary is that Netanyahu will have a greater motivation now to form a national emergency government than he did in the past. Already, before the primary, he said numerous times that setting up a national unity government was his goal. Given the composition of his list, this will become even more critical now. Netanyahu, who has already sat once in the prime minister's chair, understands clearly that he will have to work with the world. As a politician who pays very close attention to the United States and understands its system well, he also understands clearly that he will need to work with President-elect Barack Obama. He also understands that to do so he is not going to be able to ditch the diplomatic processes that have already been set in motion - both with the Palestinians and, to a lesser degree, with the Syrians. Ironically, in order to keep those processes going, Netanyahu - if he wins the elections in two months - is going to have to rely on help from his rival political parties, because when it comes to the diplomatic process, more than a few of those on the new Likud list will definitely not be giving him a hand of their own.