The commercials are never-ending, the pop-up ads are frequent, and the phone calls are daily; it is no surprise that the presidential campaign in the United States has reached full throttle. Similarly, Israel is preparing for their own election. The two candidates in both situations are found frequently debating the same issue. As the U.S. candidates debated the Middle East conflict during their presidential debate this past Wednesday, the Israeli leaders were surely up late intently watching, knowing the impact this debate would have on their own agendas.
Obama vs. Romney, Netanyahu vs. Barak; two countries with large world impact, in dire need of strong leadership. Unlike the Democrat and Republican candidates in the U.S., the two political rivals in Israel experienced a time where they were close alliances. Ehod Barak is Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense minister. They joined forces to create a strong-hold campaign in Israel against the prominent nuclear program in Iran (Kershner, 2012). However, these days of comradely have long left the table. As elections do, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak have found the flaws in each other’s work and have not forgotten to publicize them.
As we witnessed Wednesday evening during the presidential debate, it is always a much easier accomplishment to point out the flaws of a current leader, compared to a hopeful candidate that hasn’t been given the chance to get their feet wet. Mr. Netanyahu has been critiqued in the recent weeks for his ‘meddling’ in America’s presidential election when he openly criticized President Obama’s approach to handling Iran’s nuclear state (Tarnopolsky, 2012). Just like any election, one candidate’s faults becomes the other’s shining achievements. Mr. Barak has realized the elections, which were originally set to be held in June of 2013 but now looking at a February date, are fast approaching. As his competitor struggles with keeping strong ties with the United States, Mr. Barak is now using that as his selling point. The Israeli people tend to view relations with the U.S. as vital, making this relationship one with a deciding outcome (Verter, 2012).
But what does all of this mean for the United States and Israel after the elections? Well, this undoubtedly is dependant upon who is successful in convincing their people they are suitable for running their respected countries. However, even though anyone can give their best guess as to how foreign relations will look when a particular candidate is elected, it is a circumstance that is only worth the action, not talk. Mitt Romney has pointed out his frustration with President Obama’s foreign policy with the Middle East. He believes he has damaged relations with Israel and taken the nuclear threat of Iran too lightly (Borchers, 2012). Obama, on the other hand, states that he has been in recent contact with Netanyahu where they have come to full agreement on preventing Iran’s attainment of nuclear weapons. The current President has claimed that the United States will do what is necessary to control the issue (Wilson, 2012).
With all of these issues being thrown about each day for the next month, a few things do become clear. Whoever becomes the reigning leader in either country, they are going to have to have a strong foreign policy ready to be implemented. The recent unrest in the Middle East is a testament to the need for change. Whether that be a revamped policy from the current president or a fresh new start from a different political party, I will leave that choice up to you. Without regard to the name, the incoming president is going to have to be ready and willing to take on Iran’s nuclear situation, the Palestinian issues, relations with Israel and a strong foreign policy for the Middle East that focuses on the promotion of sustainable peace. Not only is the election heating up in the United States, but Israel is dealing with the same heat. The ties between the countries make it imperative to keep a close eye on both as they go through this critical political time.