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Obama victory spells trouble for Israel's Netanyahu
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an even more awkward time with Washington and re-energized critics at home who accused him on Wednesday of backing the loser in the U.S. presidential election.
With Iran topping his conservative agenda, Netanyahu will have to contend with a strengthened second-term Democratic president after four years of frosty dealings with Barack Obama and a rift over how to curb Tehran's nuclear program.
Facing his own re-election battle in January, polls give Netanyahu little chance of losing but perceptions that he has mishandled Israel's main ally have been seized on by opponents.
"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel's citizens," Netanyahu said in a short, congratulatory statement hailing what he called strong strategic relations with Washington.
But in remarks underscoring a rift with the United States over possible Israeli military action against Iran, Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this week: "If there is no other way to stop Iran, Israel is ready to act."
Relations between Netanyahu and Obama hit a new low two months ago after the Israeli leader said nations which failed to set "red lines" for Iran - which denies seeking atomic arms - did not have the "moral right" to stop Israel from attacking.
Such comments, along with financial backing for Republican candidate Mitt Romney from a U.S. casino magnate who is also one of Netanyahu's biggest supporters, were seized upon by critics as evidence the Israeli leader was trying to undermine Obama.
Netanyahu denied he was interfering in U.S. politics.
But former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Sallai Meridor, suggested that Obama would not easily forget that Netanyahu had created a perception that Israel wanted Romney to defeat him.
Obama is "very strategic, very disciplined", Meridor said during a panel discussion on the U.S. 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."
One of the Israeli prime minister's own leading coalition allies, Eli Yishai of the religious Shas party, said simply: "It's not a very good morning for Netanyahu."
For the Palestinians, Obama's win over Romney - who offended them by suggesting during a visit to Israel in July that cultural differences accounted for the weakness of their economy compared with Israel's - stirred little emotion.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement he hopes Obama "continues his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East". U.S.-backed peace talks with Israel collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement building.
At the forum in Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said it would be unrealistic to think Obama would choose to ignore the Palestinian issue in his second term.
"It always finds its way back onto the agenda. 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.
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."
Obama's victory could complicate Netanyahu's run in Israel's January 22 national ballot, which opinion polls show he will win.
Former premier Ehud Olmert, who accuses Netanyahu of harming Israel's "most vital interests", was more likely to announce his candidacy now that Obama was returned to office, analysts said.
Olmert unsuccessfully pursued peace with the Palestinians before resigning in 2008 over corruption allegations. Should he run, Olmert is widely expected to seek to unite centrist and left-wing parties into a new bloc trumpeting slogans warning of four more years of acrimony between Netanyahu and Obama.
"Netanyahu bet on the wrong president and got us into hot water with Obama," the opposition Kadima party said on Facebook.
In his message to Obama, however, Netanyahu adopted a phrase used lately by the president's own supporters to describe strategic relations with Washington as "stronger than ever".
- He is a menace
- I fucking hope so. If only it also meant the end of AIPAC's influence over our govt.
Fucking traitors trying to push for even more American kids (none of whom will belong to AIPAC members) to die in another war in the Mideast.
- Obama and Netanyahu may disagree on things, but I just don't see President Obama allowing US/Isreal relations to turn on Netanyahu's support for Romney. It isn't his personality.
- Now come on. Israel calls the shots and Obama sheepishly goes along. Need I remind you that Netanyahu's father was secretary to Vladimir Jabotinsky, the Zionist monster who wrote Mussolini in 1935 congratulating him on the victory in Ethiopia as a triumph for the white race. This is merely an attempt to sugar coat the fact that OBAMA is facing horrible decisions in the world that have no solutions. He's won the election; now he has to face Israel and Iran.
- [quote] Israel calls the shots and Obama sheepishly goes along.
So true -- Bibi is just pissed because Obama doesn't flatter him, something Obama doesn't know how to do.
- Please let O stand up to that monster, Bibi. He's got nothing on the line now, no reelection - think how refreshing it would be to have a President be more fair , re the Isreali/Palestinian problem, and stop the legacy of our Prez being Isreal's bitch.
- [quote] Israel calls the shots
Then that must mean Israel wanted Obama to win, right? But thanks for that mish-mash of anti-semitic tropes, some classic, some updated. But they never die, because freaks like you keep reworking them and repeating them.
- AIPAC calls the shots regardless of who is president, that's why the Dem-led Senate essentially went over Obama's head to push forth a resolution for preemptive war with Iran, but thanks for playing victim again, R7.
Yes, there's nothing unusual about the fact that the two parties agree on absolutely nothing except their warmongering Likudnik stance. Give me a break.
Stop pretending that many liberals don't turn their backs on compromise and peace when it comes to Israel. There's no difference between the reichwing and left on Israel. The majority are whores of AIPAC.
- [quote]Yes, there's nothing unusual about the fact that the two parties agree on absolutely nothing except their warmongering Likudnik stance.
Oh, obviously. That totally explains why Israel has already bombed Iran, like the Likud Party has wanted to do for some time.
You guys keep posting facts that show the Likudniks are not getting what they want. Then, without taking a breath, you complain that those facts show the Likudniks run the show. This persistent lack of logic shows you're holding positions based on obsessive hatred rather than facts.
- Oh, obviously. That totally explains why Israel has already bombed Iran, like the Likud Party has wanted to do for some time.
You're so silly. Genuinely silly.
- R9, Many of the posters won't listen to logic. Observe Obama's actions in Israel and efforts at negotiation in the Mid East. Americans do not want more war, and Obama knows that.
- Netanyahu was ready to attack Iran in 2010 and backed down only because Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad director Meir Dagan opposed the order.
- According to the Likud Party, Iran has been "eighteen months away from having a nuclear bomb" every month for the past ten years or more.
- Buh-bye Bibi. Obama's in charge now. So get the fuck off Palestinian land and stop building settlements, and maybe we'll talk.
- Netanyahu was profoundly stupid to side with Romney during the campaign. Obama will never forget this slight.
- R15, I would like to think that Obama is more mature and realistic, and will likely forget what to some may be a perceived slight. He must know that Netanyahu only represents the right wing of Israel, not the whole countries' philosophy. I'll bet Israel as a whole is very glad Pres Obama was reelected.
- Who cares what Israel thinks?
- Then my vote for Obama yesterday has other benefits. Netanyahu is a disaster.
- R18, By voting for Obama we are truly supporting Israel AND what is best for both the entire MidEast and USA; reduction in tension through negotiation.
- "Who cares what Israel thinks?"
Saying what Netanyahu thinks is what Israel thinks is akin to saying what Romney thinks is what Massachusetts thinks.
- I honestly think that it Israel was blown off the map tomorrow most Americans and Europeans would be more relieved than saddened.
- r7/r9 = Megaphone desktop tool
BTW, Israel calls the shots when it comes to foreign policy. They can't rig US elections, dumbfuck! Take your professional victim ass elsewhere, troll!
- [quote][R18], By voting for Obama we are truly supporting Israel AND what is best for both the entire MidEast and USA; reduction in tension through negotiation.
Yeah, sure. That's why Obama won't take Bibi's calls. LMFAO!
Obama is the first president in decades to not allow Israel to push them around. The majority of Israelis hate Obama. That's music to my, and anyone who isn't a religious fascist's ears. We already tried a 21st century American-Western-Israel holy war, and that was the war with Iraq. It doesn't work. The Second Coming ain't happening. Get over it!
- With this election, and each succeeding election that diminishes the rethuglicans even more, Israel will take-on the proper perspective in our government of being less than important. The middle east will slowly reconstruct itself and the need for US assistance for Israel will diminish and finally end. The idea of a tiny religious state being a super power in the middle east will finally seem as ridiculous as it truly is. This will give US Jews the courage and confidence to move permanently to their middle east homeland instead of the fake splitting of their loyalties they currently do. This will add to the white flight I believe will happen in the US in coming years. This too will be positive for those who remain in the US as they will inherit the infrastructure and assets of the departing whites.
- Get over it! Obama has said he will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and he's going to have to make good on his word. He got 70% of the Jewish vote, and he's beholden to it. Let's face it, after 64 years of America stuffing Israel with money they are NO closer to peace, Camp this and camp that be damned. Jimmy Carter talks about peace with the Arabs and ignores Persians. Peres appears on "The View" and those liberal peace-loving whores hug and kiss him. My slave-holding ancestors would be rolling over in their graves, appalled at such flagrant racism. Peres treats Americans like something that comes out of his nose. Obama is going to have to face this, a lose-lose situation. That's why I'm glad he won.
- Nothing will change. Even if Obama dislikes Israel's oppression on Palestinians, he can't do anything about it because American policies and finances are controlled and funded by Jewish Americans who are pro-Israel and they do not care about its gross violation of human rights. If Obama goes against their values and money, he will risk a chance of being assassinated. Remember Yitzhak Rabin?
- [quote]Nothing will change. Even if Obama dislikes Israel's oppression on Palestinians,
Nothing will change until western leaders speak up about Palestinian oppression of Palestinians:
- Nothing will change until western leaders speak up about Arab oppression of Palestinians:
- But if you're so sure that Israelis oppress the Palestinians, why is that that over 10,000 Palestinians from Jerusalem have requested and received Israeli citizenship?
- R23, It is a 100% myth that all of Israel or all American Jews support all of Netanyahu's statements.
R21, Have you taken a poll in Europe and America? Everyone knows that if Israel ceased to exist, all of the religious and historically valued artifacts would be destroyed by the Palestinians or Arab extremists. Remember the ancient, archaeologically valued Bhuddist statue? Even if you're an atheist, you respect the value of any religion's historic architecture.
R26, When Palestinians agree to recognize Israel, they will have their own Homeland too. When are they going to stop fighting among themselves and unify behind a leader, that doesn't financially exploit them?
- Thanks, R24, you be sure to let us know when the shuttle lands.
- "Israel is ready to react"
- [quote]Exit poll: Obama wins 69% of Jewish vote
If American Jews were all worried about Obama's relationship with Netanyahu, Obama wouldn't have won so many of their votes.
- r7/r9/r27/r28/r29/r30/r34 is really getting good use out of the Megaphone desktop tool.