The U.S. and Israel could be headed for icy relations if Barack Obama is elected president and Benjamin Netanyahu again becomes his country’s prime minister following February elections.
“Should Obama win, it’s fair to assume he will follow in the footsteps of previous new presidents and first of all attempt to distinguish himself from his predecessor by doing the opposite of the man he is replacing,” Jeff Barak writes in an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post.
So while President Bush has for the most part remained silent on the issue of Israeli government funding of “illegal” Jewish settlements on the West Bank, it is reasonable to assume that Obama, “aiming to strike a new tone in American foreign policy, will, rightly, take a less forgiving attitude to such behavior,” writes Barak, The Post’s former editor-in-chief.
And if Netanyahu wins in February, as polls predict he will, his failure to honor past commitments to remove illegal settlement outposts “will be just one of a number of flashpoints … between a new Israeli government and the new American administration,” he notes.
Another flashpoint could be the future of Jerusalem.
During his recent campaign visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, Obama reportedly told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he supports Palestinian claims to half of Jerusalem — claims that Netanyahu rejects.
The Lebanese newspaper al-Ahbar cited senior Palestinian sources who said Obama had insisted that his declaration of support for the Palestinian position remain secret for the time being.
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