World Citizen: Syria Peace Efforts on the Horizon

Last week's parliamentary elections in Israel saw the country take a collective step to the right, but it is incorrect to conclude, as conventional wisdom seems to be doing, that the vote marks the end of peace efforts. Instead, the elections could take those efforts in a different -- and possibly even fruitful -- direction: Israel's next government could end up playing down the Palestinian track in favor of a major push to reach a peace agreement with Syria.

Negotiations to form a new government are just getting started, and there is no certainty about how they will conclude. The right-of-center Likud party came in second to centrist Kadima. Still, the strong showing of rightist parties means that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud is most likely to emerge as Israel's next head of government. That outcome, however, is not assured. And even if Netanyahu wins the top prize, there are a number of different formulas that could make that happen. Netanyahu's experience as head of a right-wing government from 1996 to 1999 left him reluctant to build such a coalition again. Instead, he would prefer a centrist alliance with Kadima, and even one that would include the battered Labor party, particularly because he would like Labor leader Ehud Barak to keep his job as defense minister.

That vision may not materialize for Likud. Labor says it wants to rebuild in the opposition, and Kadima's Tzipi Livni is likely to join Netanyahu only in a deal that assures her equal power, meaning a rotating prime ministership.

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