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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora