JPost Columnist: Obama-Netanyahu Chasm 'Unbridgeable'

Image: JPost Columnist: Obama-Netanyahu Chasm 'Unbridgeable'

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 04:39 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The "negative chemistry and ideological differences" between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are "unbridgeable" after a Bloomberg interview that reveals the president's attitude toward Israel, said an op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post.

Obama's statements to Bloomberg columnist Jeff Bloomberg were released only a few hours before Netanyahu was to arrive for a U.S. visit, wrote Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Liebler in a column published Sunday, and were "carefully orchestrated."

"Obama reverted to his May 2011 role as an Israeli basher and engaged in personal savaging and humiliation of Netanyahu," Liebler wrote.

In the March 2 Bloomberg piece, Obama warned Netanyahu that time is running out for Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy, but that Netanyahu has the strength and political credibility to lead his people in the right direction, Liebler wrote.

Obama told Goldberg that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach," adding, "It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.”

Liebler called Obama's interview and statements an "unprecedented breach of diplomatic etiquette" that "sandbagged" Netanyahu.

Further, Liebler said, Netanyahu had intended to adopt, with reservations, Secretary of State John Kerry's proposals for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

In the Bloomberg piece, Obama accused Netanyahu of leading Israel toward disaster, while praising Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Liebler wrote.

"Obama’s most ominous remark was a veiled threat that unless Israel made further concessions, the U.S. would be limited in its ability to protect Israel from “international fallout” at the United Nations and other international bodies," Liebler said.

While some say Obama was playing "good cop, bad cop" with Kerry to help encourage the talks, "the more likely explanation is that in the absence of another election, Obama no longer feels obliged to be nice to Israel and is unconstrained in promoting his biased outlook," Liebler wrote.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Ukraine blew up, and "Obama’s impotent response again highlighted the dramatic retreat of the U.S. from the world stage," wrote Liebler.

He also blamed Obama's "incompetence and failed diplomacy" for the situation in Syria.

When combined with his "misguided support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt," Obama made the way for Russia to resume its role as a player in the Middle East,  Liebler said.

"Obama’s courting and appeasement of extremist adversaries like Iran and his alienation of friends, and hollow threats, have convinced traditional allies that the United States has become a paper tiger and can no longer be relied upon," he writes. "Many regard Obama as even more ineffective than President Jimmy Carter."

But Obama made a 360-degree reversal from the Bloomberg article, gushing during a press conference that "we do not have a closer friend or ally than Israel, and the bond between our two countries and our two peoples is unbreakable."

After the March 3 Obama-Netanyahu meeting, the talks were described as "not as contentious," and Obama said he would "push Palestinians to match any concessions the Israelis make."

"And so, we witnessed an extraordinary reversal," writes Liebler. "At the subsequent AIPAC conference, Kerry was effusive in his praise of Israel and Netanyahu. He called on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and stressed that Israel could not compromise its security."

But Liebler warned about being under illusions about the differences between Obama and Netanyahu.

"Obama’s calculated, savage outburst against Netanyahu prior to his arrival stands in stark contrast to the soft and engaging language he consistently employs toward leaders of rogue states like Iran," Liebler complained.

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