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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs