In under a week an election takes place in the U.S. Should Israel care who wins the US midterms?
Yes. Specifically the Israeli government and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
For those uninitiated, every two years Congressional elections are held. Since they take place halfway through a presidential term, they are called mid-term elections. The next midterm election will be on November 4th. Here’s why it’s important to the Israeli government and more specifically the prime minister. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the 100 seats in the Senate are contested. In individual state-wide elections for governor, 36 of the 50 states, including most of the state legislatures are contested.
Recent national polls suggest the Republican Party will win a majority in both houses of Congress. This is important because in recent years, Republican politicians have been successful in showing support of the Netanhayu government, in contrast to the public image of the Obama administration. Recent news coverage on the deep divisions over policy decisions have done nothing to dissuade this notion.
So, with a Republican victory the Israeli government wins too. This is significant for two reasons.
1. Stating the obvious: Conservatives are more ideologically linked to Likud, than Democrats. While this is not necessarily the precursor to positive relations, there have been differences of opinion between Republican presidents and Likud prime ministers, there remains a perceived understanding that goes beyond friendship of world leaders. And in the one major area of American governance, money, Congress holds the purse strings.
With the various committee decisions the US Congress makes regarding American foreign policy, financial aid, and military aid towards Israel, Congress is in charge. In the final two years of President Obama’s term in office Republicans can be a key political and public headache to President Obama on a variety of national and international issues that form his agenda, not including the biggest point of contention between U.S.-Israeli relations: Iran.
2. A largely unreported and underappreciated topic is the importance of American and Israeli city to city cooperation, and various national memorandums of understanding between American states the Israel. Individual states and American cities that are under Republican Party control may be more willing to support projects with Israeli government and nongovernmental counterparts covering economic and technological and environmental issues.
In the coming years this will prove vital as Israel and the U.S. navigate the changing political and international landscape as partners in progress and peace.