Israel Eyes Barack Obama
Does Israel have anything to fear from a President Barack Obama after taking the Oath of Office on January 20th?
4 Nov.: Many Israelis fear that pro-Arab figures will step out from behind Obama’s Middle East campaign advisers and be installed in key positions in his administration. They recall that his campaign was choreographed by a hard left Chicago group. Aware of this, Dennis Ross, Middle East envoy under Democratic and Republican presidents, and Martin Indyk, former ambassador to Israel, issued pre-election statements assuring Israel they had nothing to fear from Obama.
However, Rob Malley, who is in close rapport with Syrian president Bashar Assad and the radical Hamas headquarters in Damascus, is still around and acts as Obama’s liaison with Arab leaders, although the candidate claimed earlier to have dropped this controversial figure from his team.
A lesser known fact is that Malley is a personal friend of Dr. Samir Thaki, Syria’s top negotiator in the indirect talks with Israel brokered by Turkey. He played a shadowy but firm role in those talks under Obama’s policy guideline to back Damascus’ push for a complete Israel withdrawal from the Golan. This ultimatum kept the Bush administration from backing those negotiations and explains why Assad preferred to stall until a new US president was elected.
If Israel’s transitional prime minister Ehud Olmert goes along with this line – he is still weighing the option - it would represent Israel’s biggest concession ever to an Arab state and hamper the chances of his successor, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, to lead their Kadima party to victory in Israel’s February 10, 2009 general election.
Israel’s opposition has said it would not be bound by any such concessions. However its endorsement by Obama would represent his first step toward ushering in a Middle East policy based on drawing Damascus out of its alliance with Iran. Israel would then find itself on a collision course with Washington.