The election is over in Israel, but no candidate can begin to govern. The results are not final and even when they are a leader will have a tough time ascending to power. The returns show Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni with a narrow lead over former leader and hard liner Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are hawks and believe in the right of their country to exist without giving land or other incentives to the thugs of the region. Livni's Kadima party pulled in 28 seats in the parliament side of the election and Netanyahu's Likud party tallied 27. Neither haul is sufficient to form a clear government. The difference in their influence can be found by looking closely at the demographics of the election. Livni took the more metropolitan region of Tel Aviv while Netanyahu won in Jerusalem. This tells me that the citizens know which candidate will protect the most important component to them, the City of Peace. Netanyahu has vowed to put an end to Hamas as we know it and I believe he would give it his best shot. He does have experience in this area. The main point and the one that will tell the story for generations to come is Iran and its nuclear capabilities. All candidates stated in the campaign that a nuclear Iran is not an option for Israel and all vowed to not let it come about. To me, that is a given. What I look for is a dirty bomb or suitcase nuke that Iran hands over to the militant groups like Hamas. That can be done in virtual secret and cause major damage to Israel. Netanyahu will chase these terrorists away from the border. He will pull out every move to keep his country safe. He will not wait for permission from Obama and I am sure Obama would not give it.
Netanyahu has the edge in piecing together a government that can get things done. He will likely pull in the third largest party and form a hard line, hard right government leaving Livni in the opposition. Another option is to form a more centrist government along with Livni. I pray for the first option.
The next few days will set the stage for the next few decades in the Middle East. Israel remains the lone strong democracy and I feel that Benjamin Netanyahu is the man to protect it.