Obama Re-election Spells Trouble for Israel
15 Nov 2012 05:18 GMT
 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The re-election of US President Barack Obama to a second term in office is expected to usher in new troubles for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over criticism of mishandling Israel's main ally. (more)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - The re-election of US President Barack Obama to a second term in office is expected to usher in new troubles for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over criticism of mishandling Israel's main ally.

"It's not a very good morning for Netanyahu," Eli Yishai of the religious Shas party, a member of Netanyahu's ruling coalition, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Obama was elected to a second four-year term in office after defeating his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
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The victory sparked criticism for Netanyahu of undermining Israel's relations with its major ally by openly favoring Romney.

“Following what Netanyahu did in the last few months, the question arises of whether or not our prime minister has a friend in the White House,” former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with New York Jewish leaders on Wednesday.

“What took place this time was a breaking of all the rules, when our prime minister intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote,” he said.

“The very same billionaire used Israel's prime minister to advance a nominee of his own for president.”

Relations between Obama and Netanyahu have strained over Israel's refusal to halt settlement building in the occupied West Bank to help re-start peace talks with the Palestinians.

The two sides also differed on the way of dealing with Iran, which Israel and the West suspect it is seeking atomic bombs, a claim dismissed by Tehran.

Israel has called for a military action against Iran to stop its nuclear program, a suggestion is opposed by Washington though it has never ruled out the military option.

Relations between Obama and Netanyahu hit a new low two months ago after the Israeli leader said nations which failed to set "red lines" for Iran did not have the “moral right” to stop Israel from attacking.

Such comments, along with financial backing for Romney from a US casino magnate who is also one of Netanyahu's biggest supporters, were seized upon by critics as evidence the Israeli premier was trying to undermine Obama.

"Netanyahu bet on the wrong president and got us into hot water with Obama," the opposition Kadima party said on Facebook.

Complications

Diplomats expect that Obama would not easily forget that Netanyahu wanted his defeat.

Obama is "very strategic, very disciplined", former Israeli ambassador to Washington Sallai Meridor said during a panel discussion on the US election at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"But I don't think we can just assume that what happened between them over past four years will have just evaporated," he said.

"When people fight for their political life and have the perception that their partner is trying to undermine their chances, it's not going to disappear."

Obama's victory could complicate Netanyahu's run in Israel's January 22 national ballot, which opinion polls show he will win.

Officials also expect that Obama's electoral win will help accelerate efforts to resume the moribund peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

"It always finds its way back onto the agenda,” US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said at the panel discussion.

“You can't expect this to go away or remain on the back-burner," he said, without offering a prediction of what Obama might do.

Obama's re-election has generated little emotion among the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement he hopes Obama "continues his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East".

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, unemployed Narmeen Taha, 37, voiced hope that freedom from re-election pressure might make Obama readier to take the Palestinians' side.

"Maybe Obama, now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election, will exert more pressure on Israel than during his first term."But I also don't think we'll see a sudden turnaround."

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net



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