Netanyahu Faces 'Payback' After Obama Victory?

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Common Dreams

Netanyahu Faces 'Payback' After Obama Victory?

by
Common Dreams staff

Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House in 2010. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

"This is probably not a very good morning for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Wednesday.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party had actively supported Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in what Israeli opposition leader Shaul Mofaz described as “a rude, blunt, unprecedented, wanton and dangerous intervention in the United States election.”

On January 22nd, the day after Obama's re-inauguration, Netanyahu will face Israeli voters in his own attempt to get re-elected.

The Jerusalem Post wrote Wednesday: "Israel is now 76 days away from its own elections, elections the Obama Administration would just as clearly like to see Netanyahu lose, as Netanyahu would rather have liked to see Republican candidate Mitt Romney win on Tuesday night.

Reuters reports:

Former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Sallai Meridor, suggested that Obama would not easily forget that Netanyahu had created a perception that Israel wanted Romney to defeat him.

Obama is "very strategic, very disciplined", Meridor said during a panel discussion on the U.S. election at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"But I don't think we can just assume that what happened between them over past four years will have just evaporated," he said. "When people fight for their political life and have the perception that their partner is trying to undermine their chances, it's not going to disappear."

Attacking Iran?

The bellicose Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this week: "If there is no other way to stop Iran, Israel is ready to act."

The Guardian reports:

Obama's reference in his victory speech to moving "beyond this time of war" indicates his strong aversion to military confrontation with Iran.Two issues will characterize the relationship between the US and Israel over the next year. The first is Iran. Netanyahu has, for now, drawn back from his bellicose rhetoric of earlier this year, clearly indicating in his speech to the United Nations in September that Israel was unlikely to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear installations before next spring or summer.

This followed Obama's refusal, despite Netanyahu's best efforts, to be forced into specifying the point at which the US would be prepared to take military action, while insisting that remains an option if diplomacy and sanctions fail to halt the Iranian program.

Israel – the political, military and security leadership, as well as the general public – would much prefer joint action with the US, not least because of questions over Israel's military capability to strike unilaterally. But Obama's reference in his victory speech to moving "beyond this time of war" indicates his strong aversion to military confrontation with Iran.

The second issue is progress towards a settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. This is the most likely arena for any possible "payback", especially if Obama decides, as so many previous second-term presidents have, that he wants to make this a legacy issue.

Netanyahu, whose inclination is to "manage" the current situation in which millions of Palestinians live under occupation, rather than advance towards a two-state settlement of the conflict, will attempt to resist pressure.

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