Russia laughs at us; Iran couldn’t be more contemptuous.
But Israel, boy, they’ll regret the day they crossed Barack Hussein Obama.
The United States is considering taking “harsher action” against Israeli construction efforts in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, reports Thursday said.
According to the report in Ha’aretz, the White House has been discussing taking “active measures” to discourage Israeli construction, instead of just issuing condemnations, as it has done until now.
But commentators on Israel’s right dismissed the story as “political scare tactics” in the wake of upcoming elections in Israel.
The report said that senior American officials asked about the report “did not deny this, but refused to disclose more details.” According to the report, “a discussion on such a sensitive and politically-loaded issue in the White House is extremely irregular and shows to what extent relations between the Obama administration and Netanyahu government have deteriorated.”
According to the report, the White House decided on this new policy after the recent meeting between US President Barack H. Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The meeting occurred as Peace Now announced that Israel had approved the construction of 1,600 homes in Jerusalem’s Givat Hamatos neighborhood, and activists moved into homes in the City of David neighborhood.
The report said that American actions could include abstaining in votes condemning Israel at the UN Security Council, instead of vetoing them, or banning funding of projects in Judea and Samaria.
Consider the timing:
Political commentators on the right in Israel dismissed the Ha’aretz report as “election propaganda.”
The fact the report emerged a day after the Knesset decided on new elections “is more than just mere coincidence,” said one commentator.
“Whether it was the idea of Ha’aretz or a White House functionary, it’s clear that the message here is that Israel will be better off with someone other than Netanyahu leading it. These kinds of stories always ‘happen’ to surface before elections, and nothing ever comes of them.”
May it backfire. May Israelis know that America has their back, even if Obama wants to kick them in the nuts. Proverbial nuts.
As I was saying:
With Israeli elections now scheduled for March 2015, there’s no doubt who the Obama Administration is rooting for: Mr. or Ms. A.B.B.—Anybody But Bibi. But the president and secretary need to be very careful here. We don’t read Israeli politics very well; and we haven’t proven very effective in predicting, let alone orchestrating outcomes. The best advice to an administration that has proven anything but sure footed in the Middle East, particularly in dealing with Israel, is to keep out of Israeli politics.
Like that’s gonna happen:
Like Bush 41 and Shamir, Bill Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu were not exactly soul mates. In June 1996, after their first meeting, Clinton, frustrated by Bibi’s brashness, exploded: “Who’s the fucking superpower here?”
You can see why relations were tense. For the preceding two months, Clinton had done everything he could to tip the election to Shimon Peres, a caretaker prime minister, in the wake of Rabin’s assassination by an Israeli radical in November 1995.
Clinton had persuaded Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to convene a Summit of the Peacemakers in Egypt in an effort to save the peace process and Peres, too, after a series of Hamas terror attacks. When Peres visited Washington, Clinton went out of his way to praise Peres’s leadership and insisted on referring to the upcoming election in a reference that all but said “vote for Peres if you’re serious about peace.”
And, still, Netanyahu won.
[I]n December 2000, a month before his term ran out, the president was prepared to fly to Israel to broker an agreement between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, not least in order to help Barak defeat Ariel Sharon in elections scheduled for February 2001. But the deal foundered and Barak lost.
Now, as the clock ticks down on Israeli elections scheduled for March 2015, will the Obama Administration play internal Israeli politics to try to tip the election against Netanyahu?
Resist the temptation, Barack:
It’s an inconvenient but important reality to acknowledge that of the three U.S.-orchestrated breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process, two of them—the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the Madrid peace conference—came from hardline Likud prime ministers. The third—the three disengagement agreements following the 1973 war —came courtesy of a very tough Labor prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.