Keeping a nation out of war is usually something to emphasize in elections: in Israel, where the nation has gone over two weeks without much in the way of military conflict it is the end of the war rather than the beginning which is seen as undermining the ruling coalition’s election chances.
For a nation that has been fighting low level wars in its occupied territories for decades, the 22-day war in the Gaza Strip was popular. Indeed, hugely popular, something for people to bring their families to watch. And while the Labor Party may have managed to secure some benefit from its role in starting the war, the real political winners have been the opposition: who cheered the war from the start and condemned its eventual end.
But even though the Israeli military continues to launch attacks against the Gaza Strip and the government continues to curtail humanitarian aid, its just not the same as keeping the war going, and the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu parties continue to cash in on their own hawkish positions. Kadima head Tzipi Livni has tried to distance herself from the government’s past peace talks, but with a week until the elections the effort seems to be showing little progress.
The election is likely to remain a hot topic for the rest of the week, but in the end it seems inevitable that the Likud Party will walk away a winner, and will have learned a dangerous lesson: it is not starting wars that hurts a ruling party in Israel, it is ending them.
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