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

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    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.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora