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NYT: Obama Does About-Face on Netanyahu to Limit Damage to Dems

NYT: Obama Does About-Face on Netanyahu to Limit Damage to Dems
(Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images; Debbie Hill/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 23 April 2015 10:48 AM

President Barack Obama is making overtures to repair his long-strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the efforts have more to do with currying favor with pro-Israel members of Congress and American Jews than with the Jewish State, according to The New York Times.

"The White House is engaged in an aggressive effort to assuage the concerns of American Jewish groups and pro-Israel members of Congress over the nuclear agreement with Iran, and to limit the potential political fallout for Democrats of what has become a bitter rift in the American and Israeli relationship," according to the Times.

The Obama administration "is nothing if not pragmatic, and the issue on the table now is creating conditions for a reasonable outcome should the Iran agreement be reached," former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt and Princeton professor Daniel C. Kurtzer told the newspaper.

"There was a moment in the midst of this where you wonder if anger was replacing policy, but they came to their senses and said, 'O.K., anger is not a policy, now we've made our point, it's time to move on,'" he said.

The already tense leaders' relationship further unraveled following Netanyahu's address to Congress on March 3 voicing strong opposition to the Obama administration's proposed deal with Iran.

Just last month, The Wall Street Journal reported Obama succinctly stated that he did not expect a peace accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians to take place on his watch.

"What we can't do is pretend that there's a possibility for something that's not there," Obama said at a news conference. "And we can't continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen at least in the next several years."

But since then, the White House has stepped up its efforts to extend itself to Israel by doing things like sending Vice President Joe Biden to speak at an Israeli Independence Day celebration in Washington on Thursday, marking Israel's 67 years of independence.

Israel's Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, a Netanyahu insider who the White House blamed for "orchestrating" the prime minister's address to Congress, took to Twitter to laud the move.
After his relationship with Netanyahu went from "simmering tensions" to "open hostility," Obama in the past weeks has publicly put aside his animus and spoken of his "strong devotion to Israel" while logging hours of meetings with Jewish leaders, the Times reports.

Though Obama used the meetings to impart "his deep commitment to Israel," he said that he has no current plans to meet with Netanyahu in person, according to the Times.

"He told the group that a face-to-face meeting at the White House would probably end with Mr. Netanyahu publicly venting his complaints about the president's policies, particularly his efforts to forge a nuclear agreement with Iran," the Times reported.

Obama reportedly said he would wait to meet with the prime minister until after June 30, the deadline for a deal with Iran.

The president's about-face can be attributed to concerns by some senior members of the administration that the "public feuding … had become excessive and unseemly, threatening to undermine efforts to build support for a potential Iran deal and to erode Democrats' political advantage with Jewish voters," according to the newspaper.

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President Barack Obama is making overtures to repair his long-strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
US, Israel, relations, Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu
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2015-48-23
Thursday, 23 April 2015 10:48 AM
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