Arabs Uninterested in Israeli Elections

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

The Israeli election has aroused minimal interest from Middle Eastern states who once scrutinized such votes for clues to the fate of the so-called peace process.

Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said Arabs were paying little attention to an election destined only to shift Israel further to the right.

“The chances of a peaceful settlement are already thin under Netanyahu, but they would be even more remote under a new Israeli government dominated by rightist parties,” he said.

The region also has more compelling worries than a seemingly predictable parliamentary poll, Israel’s first since Arab uprisings erupted two years ago, reshaping the Middle East.

The upheaval’s biggest scalp so far is Hosni Mubarak, who preserved Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel for 30 years.

An Islamist leader, Mohamed Morsi, is now in power, saying he will not scrap the pact. But videotapes that surfaced this month of speeches he made in 2010 as a Muslim Brotherhood leader have alarmed Israelis and others with their crude anti-Semitic remarks.

Syria’s devastating civil war and the ousting of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have largely overshadowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meir Javedanfar, lecturer in Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, said the election rated relatively low on the scale of challenges faced by Iran.

“What Iran’s supreme leader probably cares most about is: Will the next Israeli government isolate Israel’s position in the international community and damage its relations with the EU and U.S. through more building in [Yehudah and Shomron]?

“If the answer is yes, then Khamenei will probably sleep easier at night, because he most probably knows that an isolated Israel will find it difficult to justify a unilateral military attack against Iran’s nuclear sites,” Javedanfar said.