Quantcast

Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Bad blood between Obama, Netanyahu clouds relationship with key ally

By Steven R. Hurst

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:20 a.m. HST, Jan 14, 2013


WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama heads into his second term weighed down by an American government snarled in partisan gridlock, but also by an unproductive relationship with the leader of Israel, the bedrock U.S. ally in the tumultuous Middle East.

And the puzzle that is the U.S.-Israeli relationship under Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is only growing more complex.

"It's troubled. It's the greatest dysfunction between leaders that I've seen in my 40 years in watching and participating," said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center who served under six secretaries of state in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was deeply involved in negotiations involving Israel, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinians.

"I don't think we are headed for a showdown," he said, "but the relationship will continue to be dysfunctional."

Even so, the United States routinely backs Israel when much of the world is deeply critical of the Jewish state. For example the U.S. was among the few nations opposing the Palestinians' successful bid for upgraded status at the United Nations and did not criticize Israel's bombardment of Gaza late last year in retaliation for rocket attacks from the tiny Palestinian enclave.

Still, an array of issues muddies the alliance.

Netanyahu likely will win re-election on Jan. 22, two days after Obama is sworn in for a second term. Netanyahu is a hardliner on making peace with the Palestinians, a goal that Obama said was foremost on his foreign policy agenda at the beginning of his first term. Beyond that, Netanyahu has been pressing Washington to adopt policy specifics that would trigger a military strike if Iran does not pull back on its nuclear program — widely believed to be aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran claims its program is for generating electricity.

A further complication is Obama's nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.

Known as a maverick when he represented Nebraska in the Senate, Hagel is viewed by many in Washington and Israel as insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state. He has castigated what he called the "Jewish lobby" in the U.S., prompting some to label him anti-Semitic. While he voted for billions in aid for Israel, he has also called for engagement with its Hamas and Hezbollah enemies.

What's more, he opposed unilateral American sanctions on Iran's nuclear program, which the Netanyahu government believes is an existential threat to Israel.

Netanyahu's office refused comment on Hagel when contacted by The Associated Press in Jerusalem. But Reuven Rivlin, parliament speaker and member of Netanyahu's Likud party, told AP that Israelis are worried because of Hagel's "statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel."

But Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish group that pushes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, said fears of Hagel are wrongheaded.

"Talk of anti-Semitism is unjust and over-the-top," Nir said.

Republican lawmakers' opposition to Hagel is the latest in the partisan battles that have snarled the U.S. government.

Disputes over the budget almost led to major tax increases for middle class taxpayers, which neither party wanted. Other fights are pending over spending cuts and the government's borrowing authority — both with potentially dire consequences for the economy. The newly elected Congress, with a Republican-led House of Representatives and a Democratic-led Senate, is similar to the previous one, which passed fewer laws than any Congress since the end of World War II.

While most of the partisan disputes have been on domestic issues, Republicans have continually accused Obama of not doing enough to support Netanyahu's government.

The bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu began early.

In their first public appearance together at the White House in 2009, Netanyahu pointedly rebuffed Obama's call for Israel to stop building Jewish housing on land the Palestinians want in a future state. Obama dropped the issue after it became obvious that it was a waste of political capital at home and that Netanyahu would not budge. Netanyahu's government has continued to announce plans for new settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

During the presidential campaign, Netanyahu hosted Obama opponent Mitt Romney in Israel as if he were already a world leader. Netanyahu denied backing either candidate, but his words and actions clearly showed favoritism for Romney.

On Iran, Netanyahu called at the United Nations in September for the United States to draw a "red line" on Iran's nuclear program, beyond which Iran would face military action. Obama continues to insist there is time for diplomacy, but has said he would not countenance a nuclear-armed Iran.

"The more Netanyahu believes Obama is serious about preventing Iran from getting a bomb, the better they will manage their relations," said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "If not, the issue of an Israeli first strike on Iran becomes more likely."

Miller, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Obama will be too consumed with battling Congress on the budget, gun control legislation and other issues to spend much time on disagreements with Netanyahu.

"Is he going to go after Israel-Palestinian peace talks or war with Iran given all his domestic challenges?" Miller asked. "He will go to extreme lengths to avoid war with Iran."

He said the two leaders are moving further apart on the Palestinian issue, but have found some consensus on Iran. "For the next six to eight months, I don't think the president is going to push on those issues."

But Nir, of Peace Now, says time is running out for a peace deal with the Palestinians and Israel could face another armed uprising like the one that bloodied the region in 2000.

"There's more and more an atmosphere among Palestinians that there is no political horizon," he said, "a feeling that diplomacy doesn't work."

Associated Press writer Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.






 Print   Email   Comment | View 8 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(8)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
allie wrote:
The USA does not have to serve the interests of Israel. Hagel is right: Obama is president of the USA, not Israel. Let us do what is best for America. Let Israel, a vicious, dishonest aggressor, deal with its own wars. Please leave us alone!
on January 14,2013 | 05:46AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Interesting, coming from you!
on January 14,2013 | 05:56AM
turbolink wrote:
When pointed out on 13 Jan that she has a history of fomenting racial and other forms of contention and divisiveness, Allie replied "wrong." Allie, you messed up again.
on January 14,2013 | 06:30AM
64hoo wrote:
there not an aggressor in the 1993 the oslo peace accord agreement isreal offered the Palestinians 100% of the gaza strip 100% of the west bank and all of east Jerusalem as there capital city but Arafat walked away and started suicide bombing and rocket attacks on isreal all terrorism against isreal. the palestinians goal and other middle east countries want to wipe isreal of the map. isreal will still try to make peace but the Palestinians should try for piece with isreal. oh and by the way there is no such thing as occupied lands its called disputed lands from the 1967 war that isreal won.
on January 15,2013 | 10:06PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
This Headline is very long, taking two lines on your breaking news area. If u did decided to do this, then i would suggest if it is possible to make your Headlines as long as needed for any story, so that we do not click on the story to find out that we did not need to read it. I am still thinking about the Aaron Swartz story from Saturday.

When u state something that is uniquely local, such as Moanalua Freeway, then there is no question as to what the story is about. However suppose u just stated: "Motorcyclist in critical condition after freeway crash"? We would be wondering which freeway.

In this case u would most likely be covering a local news story as u would hardly be interested in a motorcycle crash on the I-405 in Southern California.

Some of us do not like to read, such as me, so i like to just read headlines and be done with it, although i seem to want to talk much lol.


on January 14,2013 | 06:11AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"The newly elected Congress, with a Republican-led House of Representatives and a Democratic-led Senate, is similar to the previous one, which passed fewer laws than any Congress since the end of World War II." omg i wonder how ObamaCare got passed? I know, it was Barry's charisma.

Even though Barry is a fellow Kamaaina from Hawaii, i disagree with his aggressiveness. Barry is just too demanding to be our Commander in Chief. He needs to be more compromising. This Israeli conflict with Netanyahu is a prime example.

We also have not heard much about North Korea. What are u doing about North Korea, Barack Hussein Obama, forty-fourth President of The United States of America?


on January 14,2013 | 06:38AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"The newly elected Congress, with a Republican-led House of Representatives and a Democratic-led Senate, is similar to the previous one, which passed fewer laws than any Congress since the end of World War II." omg i wonder how ObamaCare got passed? I know, it was Barry's charisma.

Even though Barry is a fellow Kamaaina from Hawaii, i disagree with his aggressiveness. Barry is just too demanding to be our Commander in Chief. He needs to be more compromising. This Israeli conflict with Netanyahu is a prime example.

We also have not heard much about North Korea. What are u doing about North Korea, Barack Hussein Obama, forty-fourth President of The United States of America?


on January 14,2013 | 06:38AM
64hoo wrote:
its simple Obama treats are enemies in the middle east as allies and our ally like an enemy.
on January 15,2013 | 09:53PM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News