Tags: Barack Obama | Israel | Israel | US | settlements | East Jerusalem

Mideast Expert: US-Israeli Ties Strain Amid 'Mutual Contempt'

By    |   Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:47 PM

The relationship between the U.S. and Israeli governments is the "worst it has ever been" and looks to be worsening further because of the Obama administration's dislike of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

The charge is leveled in a new article in Defense One by Middle East expert and author Jeffrey Goldberg.

In the article, Goldberg notes Netanyahu's often expressed unhappiness with the U.S., and American anger at his continuing establishment of Israeli settlements in Palestinian-heavy East Jerusalem against U.S. opposition, and his tendency to show more interest in protecting his own political career than in reaching a peaceful Israeli/Palestinian agreement.

Things have deteriorated to the point that a senior Obama administration official told Goldberg, "The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickens..t."

Noting that the situation between the two countries is heading for a "full-blown crisis," Goldberg writes, "The relationship between these two administrations — dual guarantors of the putatively 'unbreakable' bond between the U.S. and Israel— is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November mid-term elections.

"Israel and the U.S., like all close allies, have disagreed from time to time on important issues. But I don’t remember such a period of sustained and mutual contempt."

The personal cold front between Obama and Netanyahu could stretch back to the 2012 election, when Netanyahu obviously favored Mitt Romney for president. Or it might go back to 2011, when Obama accidentally blurted, into an unexpectedly live microphone, about Netanyahu to France's then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, "You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day," the Washington Examiner reports.

Netanyahu's determination to build new settlements remains a touchy issue between the U.S. and Israel.  "If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions. Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said on the issue.

Should the frostiness continue, should Netanyahu keep playing to the hard-liners in his government and resisting attempts by Secretary of State John Kerry to broker peace in the region, Goldberg notes, the Obama administration may react after the midterms by withdrawing diplomatic cover in the United Nations for Israel or by announcing its support for a two-state settlement plan, including borders based on 1967 boundaries, which would be anathema to the Israelis.

Also at issue are Iranian plans to create their own nuclear capability. Goldberg writes that Netanyahu "has 'written off' the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached."

Delineating the administration's feelings about Netanyahu, the official told Goldberg, "The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.

"The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts."

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The relationship between the U.S. and Israeli governments is the "worst it has ever been" and looks to be worsening further because of the Obama administration's dislike of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, writes Middle East expert and author Jeffrey Goldberg.
Israel, US, settlements, East Jerusalem
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2014-47-29
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:47 PM
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