Israel’s elections yesterday sent a mixed message. On the one hand the centrist Kadima party managed to squeak by with a narrow victory over the conservative Likud party by winning 28 seats to Likud’s 27 seats in Israel’s 120 seat parliament. On the other hand, the Israeli electorate shifted to the right, with the Likud-led nationalist camp increasing its strength to 65 seats from 50 and Kadima and left wing parties collectively falling to 55 seats from 70.
This will make it difficult for Tzipi Livni, the Kadima leader, to cobble together a stable coalition government. Indeed, she failed to do that last fall, even though her party was then in a better position to do so.
Israeli voters moved to the right and have become more skeptical of peace negotiations since the fighting in Gaza last month. After the bitter experience of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, only to see Hamas turn that territory into a fortified base for launching rocket attacks against civilians, few Israelis believe that peace is possible anytime soon.
Indeed peace is impossible as long as Hamas holds Gaza hostage and ruthlessly seeks to advance its goal of destroying Israel and replacing it with a radical Islamist state. The Israeli election results are a blinking yellow light that should warn the Obama Administration against recklessly pushing forward peace negotiations that have no chance of succeeding until Hamas has been defeated and discredited.