...Perhaps this manufactured crisis will diminish after Netanyahu’s speech, where he is likely to say things that many Democrats still agree with. Perhaps it will diminish if Iran rejects any deal, even on the terms the Obama administration is offering. Perhaps Netanyahu will lose his election and a new Labor Party-led government will appear in Jerusalem. But more likely, the remaining 23 months of the Obama administration will be months of continuing tension between Israel and the United States. That is because the administration desires that tension and views it as productive. The problem is not Netanyahu’s speech, which right or wrong to deliver should be a minor and passing factor in bilateral relations. The real issues are deeper and far more serious. This president has fostered a crisis in relations because it advances his own political and policy goals. That is what his subordinates and many Democrats in Congress are trying very hard, and with real success, to obfuscate.
The Weekly Standard..
26 February '15..
The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.
Suppose for a moment that the Netanyahu speech before Congress is a mistake, a breach of protocol, a campaign maneuver, indeed all the bad things the White House is calling it. Grant all of that for a moment for the sake of argument and the behavior of the Obama administration is still inexplicable. Clearly more is behind its conduct than mere pique over the speech.
First comes the personal relationship and the desire to see Netanyahu lose the election. Recall that Obama became president before Netanyahu became prime minister, and it is obvious that the dislike was both personal and political before Netanyahu had done anything. Obama does not like people on the right, period—Americans, Israelis, Australians, you name it. Obama also decided immediately on taking office to pick a fight with Israel and make construction in settlements and in Jerusalem the central issue in U.S.-Israeli relations. Remember that he appointed George Mitchell as his special negotiator one day after assuming the presidency, and Mitchell was the father of the demand that construction—including even construction to accommodate what Mitchell called “natural growth” of families in settlement populations—be stopped dead. A confrontation was inevitable, and was desired by the White House.
Obama has overplayed his hand, in the sense that in poll after poll Israelis say that they do not support his Middle East policies. Historically, an Israeli prime minister loses domestic support when he cannot manage relations with Washington. This year may be the exception, the time when Israelis want a prime minister to oppose U.S. policies they view as dangerous. They may also believe that the Obama administration is simply so hostile that no prime minister could avoid confrontations.
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