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Palestinians Hope Obama will Support Their Statehood Bid

By Israel Hayom

While some ballots for the 2012 U.S. presidential elections were still being counted, leaders in the Arab world already began to congratulate President Barack Obama on his re-election on Wednesday. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Obama and said he hoped the president would advance his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he hoped Obama would support the PA's bid for the upgraded status of a non-member state in the U.N. Erekat also urged the re-elected president to oppose Israeli settlement expansion in Judea and Samaria.

AFP reported that Hamas leaders expressed hope on Wednesday that Obama would change his approach toward the Palestinians in his second term, after what they said was a disappointing approach during his first four years in office. Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said the organization would wait to see if Obama's policies would be more positive this time around, AFP reported. "We hope that Obama commits to legitimate Palestinian rights and stops his policy of double standards and bias towards Israel," he was quoted as saying.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi congratulated Obama as well and wished him success in his second term in office.According to Al-Ahram, Egypt's official news agency, Yasser Ali, a spokesman for Morsi, said the Egyptian people congratulate the Americans on their choice and hope Obama and his administration work to achieve the interests of both the American and Egyptian people.

A spokesman for the main Syrian opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, expressed hope that the election victory would free Obama to do more to support those trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. "We hope this victory for President Obama will make him free more to make the right decision to help freedom and dignity in Syria and all over the world," SNC spokesman George Sabra said on the sidelines of an opposition conference on the Qatari capital of Doha.


Experts: Second Term Obama will Offer Iran a 'Grand Bargain'

By Israel Hayom

According to Dr. Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, President Obama in his second term is likely early on to focus on a "grand deal" with Iran, testing the Iranians to see if there is a political settlement before he needs, probably by the end of the second quarter of 2013, to decide on other means — perhaps military means — to prevent the Iranians from achieving nuclear weapons capability. Israel Hayom Staff

In its second term the Obama administration will likely offer Iran a "grand deal" to test whether diplomacy can stop its nuclear research program or whether other means, such as military force, may be necessary, according to Satloff.

In a video released by the research organization, Satloff predicted that while the Obama administration will likely be preoccupied with domestic economic affairs in its early days, it will take steps to end the violence in Syria, to take advantage of opportunities to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and to forge a new relationship with the Islamist government in Egypt.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martyn Indyk, speaking on Army Radio Wednesday morning, said he believes that the Obama administration would launch "direct, bilateral negotiations with the Iranians."

"Obama will attempt to reach an agreement with the Iranians that prevents them from obtaining a nuclear weapon. 2013 will be a year of decision. Obama will do his best to exhaust the negotiations, but if the Iranians refuse, I believe Barack Obama will use American force to eliminate Iranian nuclear capability. If he will do that, he will turn to Benjamin Netanyahu and say 'look I've dealt with the Iranian issue, now it's your turn to make progress on the Palestinian issue,'" Indyk said.

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After Obama Victory, Political Knives Come Out in Israel

By Israel Hayom

With Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential elections blowing wind into their sails, there are some in Israel speculating that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni will make an attempt to return to government.

Olmert, who is currently in the U.S. and is expected to return to Israel this week, is thought to have waited for the U.S. election results before deciding whether to return to politics after resigning in 2009, due to immense pressure following corruption charges. Apart from being convicted on one charge of breach of trust, and despite facing a possible appeal against his acquittal, Olmert still faces legal challenges in the Holyland real estate affair.

Olmert, it is thought, will seek to strike a deal with current Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz and return to the party, since by law it is already too late to form a new party. Current polls show that Kadima will not pass the electoral threshold and will be wiped out in the Jan. 22 Israeli election. Olmert and Livni met last Wednesday to coordinate their positions and released a statement following their discussion saying, "The current government must be replaced."

Both the Kadima and Yesh Atid parties attacked the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for what they perceive as his preference for Romney. In an official statement Kadima said it was "happy for Obama," although it is "concerned for Israel.By betting on the wrong president, Bibi [Netanyahu] got us into trouble with the U.S," read the statement, which was issued on Wednesday morning.

"Israel cannot afford to forego its bond with the U.S. just because Bibi cannot get along with Obama; Israel's security should never be part of a wager; Israel cannot afford to have a prime minister who has become persona non grata at the White House," the statement continued.

Yair Lapid, a popular journalist who left his job at the Channel 2 Friday night news magazine to enter politics less than a year ago, congratulated Obama for his victory on Tuesday.

A statement released by his party, Yesh Atid ["There is a Future"] said the party calls on the president to "stand by his explicit promise to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and to jump-start talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible.The gridlocked peace process in the Middle East threatens the region's stability," the statement read.

The party also expressed hope Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "takes immediate action to repair the damaged relations with the U.S. administration," explaining that "throughout the U.S. campaign the prime minister acted in a way that came across as over-the-top meddling on behalf of the Republican nominee; this is foreign to the way the two countries have normally interacted with each other; undoing the damage inflicted by such irresponsible conduct is of paramount importance to Israel."

Deputy Knesset Speaker Shlomo (Neguse) Molla (Kadima) echoed his party's statement, saying that "Netanyahu's meddling and efforts to have Mitt Romney win have hurt Israel." Molla explained that Netanyahu's conduct was "mind-boggling and condescending. This will ultimately have the effect of compromising the strategic relations between the two states; as has been stated before, Netanyahu not only lost his bet, he was also disgraced,"

Appearing at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro said Obama's relations with Netanyahu will not be affected by any personal disputes the two may have had during his first term, calling the re-elected president a "strategic thinker. "His policies are not governed by emotion," he said. "Anyone who knows the president understands that this is not how he thinks."

Vice Prime Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom was one of the first to comment on the election results, appearing on Israel Radio early Wednesday morning. Sounding an upbeat note, Shalom said Obama's experience in the Oval Office might spare the region of the learning curve a new administration would have experienced and categorically denied the assertion that Israel might have tried to affect the results of the elections.

He said the U.S. administration was well aware of Iran's nuclear ambitions and knows Israel did its utmost to resume talks with the Palestinians." The Israel-U.S. bond is robust and is based on shared principles," Shalom told Israel Radio. He then dismissed the claim that a Netanyahu victory in the upcoming Israeli elections might put the Israeli premier on a collision course with Obama because of their alleged personal animosity. "International relations are not based on vendettas or personal relationships, but rather on joint interests and values," Shalom stated.

Head of the Yesha Council, Dani Dayan, whose organization serves as the umbrella body of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria (and until the 2005 pullout, in the Gaza Strip as well) told Israel Radio on Wednesday that Romney's defeat saddened him because the Republican nominee's understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict was "immensely superior" to that of Obama. "The settlement enterprise is a fait accompli; a Palestinian state would never come into being," Dayan said.

'Two Thirds of US Jews Happy, One Third is Less Happy'

By Israel Hayom

U.S. President Barack Obama had a 70% share of the Jewish vote, according to national exit polls Tuesday evening — four points less than his share four years ago. Jews constituted 2% of the overall CNN response group, but the network did not reveal the total number of people polled, so it was impossible to assess a margin of error.

The poll, posted on CNN's website, was commensurate with projections by pre-election polls by Gallup, the American Jewish Committee, among others, that Obama would win between 65 and 70% of the Jewish vote, JTA reported on its site Wednesday.

"The early results suggest Republicans' barrage of criticism about the president's commitment to Israel have had an effect. In the crucial swing state of Florida ... the president's share of the Jewish vote was lower than the national average, at 66%," the political blog The Hill wrote.

Exit polls reported that 66% of Florida Jews voted for Obama. In stark contrast, exit polls of absentee ballots in Israel show that some 85% of American Jews living in Israel voted for Mitt Romney.

Steven Dishler, director of International Affairs at Jewish Federation of Metro Chicago, said he was not surprised by the Jewish vote."Two thirds of the Jewish community were happy and one third was less happy," he told Army Radio in an interview on Wednesday morning.

"The American Jewish community traditionally votes Democratic at around the 70% mark and I don't see that changing in the final tally of today's vote. Some of Obama's early decisions worried the Jewish community, but in the end we are one nation, we are a community that works to strengthen the bond between America and Israel there are many challenges; we also work to fix the relationship between the president and the prime minister in Jerusalem," Dishler said.

"American Jews vote on the same issues that all American voters vote on, like the economy, jobs, and the debt crisis. According to our surveys Israel is fifth place on the agenda after the debt, immigration, the economy etc. Although Israel is important to American Jews, when they walk into the voting booth, they vote on internal issues."

"I expect we'll see an effort in the coming year or two to further the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "I don't think Obama will visit Israel before the Israeli elections because he won't want to interfere in them," Dishler added.

AIPAC's Jerusalem director, Wendy Singer, said "that despite the alleged anti-Israeli positions by Obama he still got 70% of the Jewish vote, and this shows that American voters want continuity." lection.

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