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.
Instead, 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.
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.”
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.)”
“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.”
“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.”