PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama

The news is out that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington DC on 11/9/15 for a meeting with President Barack Obama, after a year’s separation. This is an overdue attempt for both leaders to mend fences. PM Netanyahu has figured out the lesson, that it does not pay to bite the hand that feeds you. (Israel receives $3 billion annually in US aid and he plans to request an increase.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu who has acted dismissively in the past towards President Obama has finally come to terms that the US- Iran nuclear deal is a fait accomplis. Prime Minister Netanyahu had tried to bluff the president and his administration by expanding Israeli’s military prowess (from 2013-2014) to appear that Israel was planning a preemptive strike against Iran. This was an attempt to strong arm President Obama into taking military action towards Iran.

ISRAEL 17327631-mmmain BIBI CARTTONInstead, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the Prime Minister’s manipulations by pushing forward with Iranian officials to negotiate a political solution, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. This was when the Israeli prime minister went on the offensive to block this agreement by various bold tactics such as his addressing the US Congress at the behest of the republican leader, John Boehner.  Then some republicans in the  US Senate wrote a letter (probably ghost written by AIPAC) to Iranian officials advising them that any agreement would not be legal. Nothing worked!! Prime Minister Netanyahu could not nudge President Obama into a war with Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House REUTERS/ Jason Reed
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House REUTERS/ Jason Reed

On October 5, 2015, fuel was added to this feuding relationship between these two leaders when the Jerusalem Post published the following report, authored by Tovah Lazaroff:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night (10/1/15) froze Ran Baratz’s appointment as his new media chief, after past Facebook posts he had written insulting US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, became headline fodder around the world.”

“Baratz had described Obama actions as “modern anti-Semitism,” referred to Kerry as someone “whose mental age doesn’t exceed 12” and charged that President Reuven Rivlin is unworthy to hold office.”

ISRAEL Netanyahu-Obama-Iran

Within Israel (late 2015), Prime Minster Netanyahu’s favorability ratings have been declining significantly. The Israeli voters are a sophisticated lot. They understand that their Prime Minister’s dealings with the US President were not constructive and could very well be counter to Israel’s long term national interests.

The author, Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic on 10/28/14, details well the ongoing contentious relationship between the US President Barack Obama and  Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This article also explains why the Israeli leader has to mend fences and here are some excerpts:

“Israel and the U.S., like all close allies, have disagreed from time to time on important issues. But I don’t remember such a period of sustained and mutual contempt. Much of the anger felt by Obama administration officials is rooted in the Netanyahu government’s periodic explosions of anti-American condescension. The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, in particular, has publicly castigated the Obama administration as naive, or worse, on matters related to U.S. policy in the Middle East. Last week, senior officials including Kerry (who was labeled as “obsessive” and “messianic” by Ya’alon) and Susan Rice, the national security adviser, refused to meet with Ya’alon on his trip to Washington, and it’s hard to blame them. (Kerry, the U.S. official most often targeted for criticism by right-wing Israeli politicians, is the only remaining figure of importance in the Obama administration who still believes that Netanyahu is capable of making bold compromises, which might explain why he’s been targeted.)”

From left to right: PM Netanyahu, President Obama and Sec of State, John Kerry
From left to right: PM Netanyahu, President Obama and Sec of State, John Kerry

“A senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly, agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

“Unlike the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, I don’t have any hope for the immediate creation of a Palestinian state (it could be dangerous, at this chaotic moment in Middle East history, when the Arab-state system is in partial collapse, to create an Arab state on the West Bank that could easily succumb to extremism), but I would also like to see Israel foster conditions on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem that would allow for the eventual birth of such a state. This is what the Obama administration wants (and also what Europe wants, and also, by the way, what many Israelis and American Jews want), and this issue sits at the core of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem.”
ISRAEL Obama-Netanyahu-1 YOU MAD BRO
“This also means that the post-November (2014-2015) White House will be much less interested in defending Israel from hostile resolutions at the United Nations, where Israel is regularly scapegoated. The Obama administration may be looking to make Israel pay direct costs for its settlement policies. Next year, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will quite possibly seek full UN recognition for Palestine. I imagine that the U.S. will still try to block such a move in the Security Council.”( NOTE: On 9/10/15 the UN world body adopted the resolution to allow Palestine , as a non member observer state, to raise their flag at the United Nations; the Vatican and UNESCO have officially recognized Palestine as a state.)
Hamas rally
Hamas rally
 “Netanyahu, and the even more hawkish ministers around him, seem to have decided that their short-term political futures rest on a platform that can be boiled down to this formula: “The whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel from what’s coming.” For an Israeli public traumatized by Hamas violence and anti-Semitism, and by fear that the chaos and brutality of the Arab world will one day sweep over them, this formula has its charms.”
“But for Israel’s future as an ally of the United States, this formula is a disaster.”
The 11/9/15 VOX article by Zack Beauchamp details the purpose for the meeting between the two leaders in the following commentary:

“The biggest objective, that I think both Bibi (Netanyahu) and Obama share, is no drama for the next 12 months,” Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a former Obama official on Israel issues, explains. “Both sides, for different reasons, just want this to quiet down after what’s been a really difficult past couple of years, and especially six months.”

“The flash-point was, of course, the Iran deal. Earlier this year, Netanyahu went behind Obama’s back to orchestrate a speech to Congress opposing the Iran deal with Republicans. This enraged the Obama administration, but Netanyahu continued lobbying members of Congress to vote down the deal.”

“The personal acrimony between the two leaders didn’t help.”

“Everyone knows they don’t like each other,” Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, says.”

“This meeting is about getting past that animosity, and getting back to a place where the two countries can help each other on issues of mutual concern. “The key is signaling, very concretely, that Israel has turned the page on the Iran deal,” Sachs says.”


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