08 January 2008

09 January 2008 - Israel's day in New Hampshire?

Voting is under way in New Hampshire at this very moment. Polls suggest Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) will be the winners, and they will likely go on to win the nominations of their respective parties. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have absolutely nothing to do with the result of the 2008 elections. But the result may have a lot to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Ha’aretz panel has been ranking the various presidential candidates on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “best for Israel” and 1 being “worst for Israel.” McCain ranks near the top with a score of 7.12; he’s the highest ranking candidate not from New York. Obama is at the bottom, with a score of 5. This might reflect their stances on U.S. policy in the Middle East in general rather than on Israel specifically: Obama is one of the only candidates who can claim with some legitimacy to have opposed the Iraq war, while McCain was the only real supporter of the successful “surge.”

If the race comes down to these two—essentially, a race between the political left and the political center—then their positions on Israel might become more important, and the candidates might seek to put more “clear blue water” between them. The opposite is more likely, since two-thirds of Americans support Israel, but anything could happen, and much depends on events in the peace process. Watch this space.

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