News / Middle East

Obama Win Stirs Israeli Worries Over PM's Romney Support

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new hospital in the port city of Ashdod, November 8, 2012.Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new hospital in the port city of Ashdod, November 8, 2012.
x
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new hospital in the port city of Ashdod, November 8, 2012.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new hospital in the port city of Ashdod, November 8, 2012.
Scott Bobb
The re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama has focused attention on his sometimes tense personal relations with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made no secret of his leanings toward the president's challenger.

The two leaders have on occasion disagreed over major Middle East issues and some Israelis are wondering about the future of their historically close ties with the United States.

A few hours after Obama was declared the winner of Tuesday's presidential election, Netanyahu moved quickly to control any diplomatic damage.

He summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and publicly congratulated Obama on his victory.

"The security relationship between the United States and Israel is rock-solid and I look forward to working with President Obama to further strengthen this relationship," Netanyahu said. "And I look forward to working with him to advance our goals of peace and security."

In what was clearly a choreographed media event, Shapiro responded to Netanyahu in kind.

"The president has enjoyed the close security cooperation and the close coordination with you and your government in his first term and I know he looks forward to continuing it in his second term," he said.

Israeli fears

The statements came amid fears of a deterioration in relations due to reported tensions and personal disaffection between Netanyahu and Obama.

Obama's opponent in the presidential election, former Republican candidate Mitt Romney, is a personal friend of Netanyahu, and Netanyahu is known to believe that a Romney presidency would have boosted U.S. government support for Israel.

A professor at the Israeli Democratic Institute and Hebrew University, Gideon Rehat, said some of Netanyahu's critics accused him of meddling in U.S. affairs and putting at risk the future security of the Jewish state.

"Because Netanyahu interfered in the elections, or that's what the argument is, the personal relationship between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama will be problematic," Rehat said. "I'm not sure if it will influence the whole relations, but this is not a good start."
 
Some analysts said that Obama in his final term would no longer fear powerful Israel supporters among Jews in America. That could boost U.S. pressure to re-start the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, they say.

The negotiations have been stalemated over Palestinian demands that the Israeli government stop building new settlements in the occupied West Bank and release political prisoners.

The Netanyahu government said it is willing to resume the talks, but without pre-conditions.

Analysts say U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush were able to push the peace process forward during their second terms by extracting difficult concessions from both sides.

Political columnist and Bar-Ilan University Professor Danny Rubinstein notes that Netanyahu's conservative Likud party recently joined forces with the far-right Yisrael Beiteinyu party. He said that may stymie future Palestinian talks.

"That's my wishful thinking, that [a second term] will help renew the peace process," Rubinstein said. "But I'm not sure that Netanyahu can do it. If you go to negotiations you have to be ready to make concessions. Netanyahu is not ready to make any concessions. And his constituency is not ready to make concessions."

Tensions over Iran
 
Iran is another source of irritation between Obama and Netanyahu.

There is great debate among Israeli officials over whether - and when - to attack Iran's nuclear installations if Iran does not stop its alleged effort to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
 
Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that time is growing short. The U.S. has asked Israel to be patient, though, to allow time for Western sanctions to force Iran to change course. Most analysts said this disagreement has largely eased in recent months.
 
Rehat said, however, that Obama's re-election could become an issue as the campaign heats up for Israel's national elections in January.
 
"The fact that Obama won will probably be used by people who challenge the Likud and Netanyahu," Rehat said. "They will say the relationship with the United States is important to Israel. And that Netanyahu would not be fit for the job because he clearly supported Romney and Romney lost."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of presidential terms served by former President Jimmy Carter. VOA regrets the error. 

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Marina from: USA
November 08, 2012 9:27 PM
every time i need a laugh i read the Iranian imposters here...

by: Rick from: Florida
November 08, 2012 7:26 PM
Israel needs to learn that diplomacy and peace is ultimately the only solution to their long-term problem...

Netanyahu's investment in America's War-lobby failed...yeah...we are still a sovereign country!

Deal with it !!!

by: Thomas Nelson from: Welches, Oregon
November 08, 2012 6:56 PM
The problem isn't in Tel Aviv, it's in Washington, where our leaders (particularly in Congress) have adopted an "Israel First" attitude - at the expense of American interests both internationally and nationally. President Obama has been humiliated by Mr. Netanyahu, he has had to oppose the massive funding of Sheldon Adelson, and otherwise has had to fight off Mr. Netanhayu's attacks through surrogates in the campaign.
Mr. Netanyahu's over-the-top meddling gives America the opportunity to, for the first time in decades, establish an America-first posture toward relations in the Middle East. Here's hoping that President Obama has the good sense to seize the opportunity.

by: Joe Bloughberg from: USA
November 08, 2012 5:53 PM
Netanyahoo's attempt to interfere in the US presidential race was a risky gamble that will certainly not bode well for Israel. Israel would be wise to get rid of Netanyahoo in their upcoming elections; his arrogance and radical right wing agenda have led him to be despised and distrusted by many world leaders, so his continued presence as PM make him nothing but a liability..

by: Karl from: Michigan
November 08, 2012 4:23 PM
"Analysts say several U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George Bush, were able to push the peace process forward during their second terms..."

I'm pretty sure Jimmy Carter only had one term.

by: Boker from: USA
November 08, 2012 3:45 PM
The preceding message has been brought to you by the Department of State spin machine.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs