Shmuel Rosner writes: In the Israel Factor’s last survey of this election cycle, our panel of Israeli experts ended up giving Romney the better score, but the gap is tiny. Like the American electorate, our panel seems to have difficulties deciding which is the better candidate. Three panelists think Romney is the better candidate, three others believe Obama is the better one, the rest – four – call it a tie.
Obama has the edge on three important areas: Iran, Syria and the Arab Spring. Romney convinced the panel that his answers on three other topics are better: The Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Egypt, and – and I believe this to be the definitive issue – relations with Israel.
While the panel believes that policies toward Iran can be altered, that Romney will be able to do tomorrow what Obama proposes today (and vice versa), it does not believe that Obama’s strained relations with the Israeli government can be changed much. Prime Minister Netanyahu is the likely candidate to be Israel’s next prime minister If Obama is reelected, this means four years of tension between the leaders. Four crucial years in which the Middle East will keep changing, in which Iran might reach the nuclear red line, in which the Assad regime might fall, in which intimate relations between the two governments will be as important as ever.