Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election puts former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a politically difficult position with Democratic Jewish voters as she navigates her position on Israel in a climate of tension with the United States, The New York Times reported
Clinton is likely to be under increased pressure to speak up against Israel, but if she is critical, she risks alienating conservative Jewish Democrats, potentially losing their support for her widely-anticipated presidential bid.
"Everyone is now going to have to pick a side," Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal Jewish lobby, told the Times. He said Clinton would undergo "more and more pressure."
Clinton has declined to comment on the Israeli election in contrast to the entire field of Republican presidential candidates who have praised Netanyahu.
To date she has largely remained silent toward liberal supporters of Israel who are outraged by what they see as Netanyahu's right-wing positions, but last summer vigorously defended Israel in its war in Gaza.
"If I were the prime minister of Israel, you're damn right I would expect to have control over security," on the West Bank, she told The Atlantic
Democratic presidential candidates are expected to push a robust defense of Israel while the overwhelming percentage of Jewish voters, and donors, are seen as liberals who will never vote for a Republican. And Democrats remain angry about Netanyahu's appearance before Congress, prompting criticism of his government, the Times reported.
Not everyone agrees that Jewish Democrats are divided over Netanyahu, the Times said.
Josh Block, president of the Israel Project, a pro-Israeli education group in Washington, said the Obama administration was to blame for the tensions so as to distract from the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Nevertheless, Jewish elected officials in the Democratic Party suggest supporters of Israel could get primary challenges from candidates that are openly critical of the Israeli government, forcing some voters to defect to the Republican Party.
"It will strengthen the hawkish types in the Republican Party," William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, told the Times.
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