In the wake of the Israeli election, there may be less cause for alarm about the state of Jerusalem’s special relationship with Washington than the doom-and-gloom crowd would like to think. That’s because Israel’s settlers, whose actions are a major point of contention between American administrations and Israeli governments, will have their clout in the upcoming government cut significantly. The New York Times reports:
The new Parliament includes fewer settlers than the last. The pro-settler Jewish Home party shrank to eight seats from 12 and will have less sway; the last housing minister, a Jewish Home member who angered Mr. Netanyahu by announcing construction without his approval, is bound to be replaced.
“He not only defeated the left, he defeated the right,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, a research organization in Jerusalem. Mr. Halevi said he did not “see a strong lobby within the coming coalition” for building outside the so-called settlement blocks Israel expects to swap for other lands in a potential deal with the Palestinians.
Historically, there has been an inverse correlation between the pace and energy of Israeli settlement projects, especially outside the so-called “bloc settlements,” and the warmth of the relationship between Jerusalem and Washington. There’s reason to hope that this new reduction in the settlers’ role will mitigate any diplomatic cool-down between the two governments.