Bibi is an Obstacle to the Iran-Obama Honeymoon

If you think things are bad between Bibi and Obama now, just wait until after the midterm elections.

Welcome to the Obama-Netanyahu fight, round 119  • In the choice between the Iranian nuclear threat and the settlements, the foul mouthed members of Obama’s team have clarified their position on both Israel can no longer rely on an automatic US veto at the UN • If  you think things are bad now, just wait until after the midterm elections

רומס את הכללי המקובלים; ברק אובמה מפגין חיבה לנתניהו. צילום: אבי אוחיון/לע"מ/פלאש90
A bad relationship getting worse; Bibi and Obama. Photo: Avi Ohayun/IGPO/Flash90

Once again, the Obama administration has used Atlantic and Bloomberg journalist Jeffrey Goldberg as a sounding post for venting their frustrations and disgust at the Israeli government. Remember when Netanyahu went to the UN? Ever so fortuitously, that’s exactly when Obama administration officials, the EU and Peace Now mentioned the building plans in Jerusalem and started a new construction crisis: a crisis the administration seems to take more seriously than the threat of a nuclear Iran or a rampaging ISIS.

Goldberg’s government interlocutors certainly used a lot of swear words. But the main story is in the following paragraph; the rest is “shit” to borrow a favorite Obama team phrase: “By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program,” Golberg writes. The relationship between these two administrations, he continues, “is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections.” In other words – by next week.

Israel is accepting as given that the US will veto the Palestinian-driven resolution to force a timetable for Israel’s exit from the West Bank. It appears that it is in the arena of the UN that Obama aims for a crisis and to which Netanyahu is contributing to its escalation. In Netanyahu’s entourage there are already fears of another development: in place of a resolution forcing a timetable for withdrawal will come one which forces him to freeze all construction east of the Green Line. America is bluntly hinting that Israel shouldn’t count on a veto on resolutions regarding settlement construction.

It’s only getting worse from here

What kind of game is Obama playing here? Like all his policies, it’s not really clear. As far as he’s concerned, Israel isn’t an important player in the Middle Eastern game. As ‘Mida’ has reported, Obama has formed a strategy in which it makes use of Iran’s services, almost to the point of an actual alliance. He is selling non-ISIS Iraq to the Iranians. The rest will fall as a ripe – or rotten – fruit in the hands of the Islamic State. Israel is only getting in the way of his honeymoon with the Ayatollahs, who for their part fund or support many terrorist organizations of their own.

No-one disputes that the dispute over Iran is at the heart of the Obama-Netanyahu battle royale. Obama administration officials are effectively using the Goldberg pipeline to humiliate and taunt Netanyahu with such schoolyard epithets as “chickenshit”. By their lights, Netanyahu missed his chance to hit in Iran and can no longer do so.

In the three months after the midterm elections, Obama will become far more extreme and uncontrollable. A Republican victory is predicted which will turn both houses into adversarial bodies towards Obama and will also be pro-Israel. If this prediction pans out, Netanyahu plans to appeal to the American people over the head of the President, and completely delegitimize his anti-Israel and pro-Iranian policy. There is no-one in the world media who takes Obama seriously. The attitude towards him is not one of criticism but of utter contempt combined with negative marks in all areas of policy.

Thus, the period between the probably Republican takeover of the Senate next week and their swearing in on January 2015, will be Obama’s window of opportunity to burn the most bridges. He has already shown that he has no real respect for the rules of democracy when these get in his way. In the end, the Obama-Netanyahu fight is about a balance of power: Obama is weak and is trying to make Netanyahu even weaker. Post-Protective Edge, Netanyahu has emerged politically strengthened both within Israel and without; fights over building of houses and petty insults are the only cards the Obama administration realistically have left.

English translation by Avi Woolf.

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