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Trump or Clinton? Israelis Fret, But Either Likely Ally

By VOA News & Reuters

Most of the world follows U.S. presidential elections closely, but Israel can seem particularly obsessive, endlessly assessing which candidate will better protect its interests and breaking down their every comment for policy clues.

As America voted, a cartoon in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz captured a sense of that fretfulness, depicting friends sitting outside a typical falafel stand and discussing in nerdy detail how the ballot turn out. "There's no way he'd lose Utah and Arizona, and you can't count on North Carolina," one says to the other. "They'd need to win Pennsylvania and hopefully Florida," the other replies.

The fact is, despite all the nervous introspection, both Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are likely to be reliable for Israel, continuing the broad policy mix U.S. presidents have pursued since the 1980s. It's the Palestinians who may have more to worry about.

Over the past four years, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has had a fractious relationship with Barack Obama, openly campaigning against the U.S. deal on Iran's nuclear program, including condemning it in a speech to Congress. But ultimately that did not stand in the way of the Obama administration's agreeing a new, $38 billion, 10-year military aid package for Israel.

And while the U.S. president has criticized Israel for building more settlements on land the Palestinians seek for their own state, the censure has never gone beyond words, essentially leaving Israel free to build. Analysts say that standoff-ish approach is likely to continue whether Clinton or Trump becomes president, and there are other reasons for Israel to expect a warmer embrace from the next administration than it has had from Obama.

Netanyahu has been careful not to show favoritism, meeting both candidates and saying much the same thing afterwards. Clinton, a former New York senator and U.S. secretary of state, has repeatedly emphasized that she will protect Israel's interests. Trump has said he will move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a popular line that would all but enshrine Jerusalem as the country's capital.

"We enjoy and appreciate the strong bipartisan support we get," said Lior Weintraub, vice president of The Israel Project, a pro-Israel lobby group, and a former chief of staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. "We believe either president will continue the tradition of the many presidents from both sides of the aisle of fostering the alliance on every front, from security to culture."

While polls show most Israelis favor Clinton, Trump has a hard-core following among some national-religious Israelis, many of whom are originally from the United States.

When it comes to policy, Israeli analysts see Clinton as having a better handle on the issues, and the people who are likely to handle the Middle East if she is elected are more familiar faces than those in Trump's circle.

The question is what it may mean for the Palestinians. With deep internal divisions and little prospect of a resumption of peace talks with Israel, Palestinian observers believe neither candidate has their best interests at heart. "Either of them will maintain the U.S. commitment to aid Israel, the two have publicly angered the Palestinians in electoral speeches," said analyst Hani Habib. "The only difference was that Trump promised to move the U.S. ambassador to Jerusalem while Clinton kept silent. Any betting on either of them is a losing bet."

George W. Bush Didn't Vote for Either Major Candidate

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Former U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura did not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, their spokesman said Tuesday. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the spokesman said the couple voted two weeks ago, but did not vote for either major party candidate.

He declined to specify whether the former president and first lady had voted for a third-party candidate or if they had written in another name. The clarification came amid reports earlier in the day that the Bushes had voted for Clinton.

Both Bush and his father, fellow former president George H.W. Bush, have not embraced the Trump, an unusual move for former presidents in the same party. In August, the younger Bush criticized policies of "isolationism, nativism, and protectionism," aspects which have come to be associated with the Trump presidential campaign. The elder Bush had reportedly indicated he would vote for Clinton, though representatives of the Bush family declined to confirm that.

Another of George H.W. Bush's sons, Jeb Bush who sought the Republican nomination but dropped out after several primary losses, has said he would not vote for Trump but also ruled out voting for Clinton.

Israel Celebrates First 'Aliyah Day'

By IsraelNationalNews.com

Israel is marked its first official Aliyah Day, celebrating immigration to the country and the contributions of immigrants to its society. The holiday on Tuesday was established by the Knesset in June.

"I will not give up on a single Jew or a single immigrant," Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said at a special session of the Knesset Committee on Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs in honor of Aliyah Day.

"I say to all Jews, without distinction, that I want them and their prayers and their rabbis here in Israel. There is room for all of us here, and we must tell all Jews who support us abroad and all who wish to immigrate to Israel that they are wanted and accepted among us." Sharansky was referring to the current unrest over the agreement to establish an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall Plaza.


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