Unlikely ways Obama could appreciate Netanyahu’s backing of Romney

Yediot Ahronot on US Election Day by Kung Fu Jew 18, on Flickr

President Obama won his reelection. And while American Jews supported him just as much as in 2008, there is one Jew who very publicly backed the losing horse: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Officially, Netanyahu said in a short statement that he will “continue working with President Obama in order to safeguard the interests crucial for the security of Israel’s citizens.” Netanyahu stepped boldly into American electoral politics by appearing with Romney and participating in Republican ads in Florida.

But while Netanyahu was mum, members of his Likud party offered bluntly disparaging statements. At least, that is, until the Prime Minister’s office demanded press statements be in line with their party leader. MK Danny Danon said, “The State of Israel will not surrender to Obama. We have no one to rely on but ourselves,” obviously forgetting an annual $3 billion of US aid, several UN Security Council vetos recently, and a 1,000-soldier US military drill conducted on Israeli soil a week ago.

Few voices are predicting whether a strengthened President Obama will take new aim at Middle East peace or demand tougher concessions against Netanyahu’s government. Tony Blair may be one. The Palestinians are not. But nobody is suggesting that Obama will forget what Netanyahu attempted to do. Already Netanyahu’s opponents are lining up to make the most of it. (Ynet posted a comprehensive round-up of congratulations by each of the major Israeli parties and electoral contenders.)

How could an invigorated Obama presidency send a signal to Netanyahu? Here are a few unlikely options that are nonetheless interesting to imagine what’s truly at stake for Netanyhu:

First of all, he could visit Israel. Preferably before the January elections and to hold photo ops with all the party leaders who support a return to two-state negotiations — Zehava Golan of Meretz, Shelly Yachamovich of Labor, as well as what becomes of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Yair Lapid. And if Bibi wants his photo op, no doubt he can have it while sharing it with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Second, he could opt to support the Palestinian Authority’s bid for non-state observer status at the United Nations. Or at least, not oppose it. Abbas congratulated Obama’s reelection while simultaneously lamenting the US’ lack of support for their upgrade. The international cache gained by the US would no doubt be useful in further actions against Iran’s nuclear program in the same forum.

Third, he could put an American proposal on the table for final status agreement with the Palestinians, putting Netanyahu in the position of fighting both his own stated agreements and the President at a time when showing no daylight between the administrations is crucial to Netanyahu’s election.

Would any of this backfire with an outpouring of Israeli support for Netanyahu domestically? According to everyone, Netanyahu will be reelected Prime Minister, but by coalition math and not by popular affirmation. By how much will he win is the question, and will new centrist parties take enough of a bite of his share to beg their inclusion in his new coalition. The left will not be in any power in Israel’s next coalition. But faced with an American administration centered on finishing negotiations, there may be reason to privilege centrists’ inclusion instead of anti-negotiation parties.

4 Responses to “Unlikely ways Obama could appreciate Netanyahu’s backing of Romney”

  1. [...] moves quickly to congratulate ObamaChristian Science MonitorJewish Telegraphic Agency -Jewschool -USA TODAYall 2,074 news [...]


    Israeli Leader in Bind After Obama Victory – ABC News | tgfmPress · November 7th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  2. Sorry but:

    1/ Between now and the end of the year BHO will be too busy handling the fiscal cliff to go anywhere. To the extent that he’ll even be thinking of foreign policy, it will involve looking for a new SofS (Hil’s leaving)

    2/ The new year will be the start of the actual implementation of Obamacare. ME events will take a definite 2nd place to what BHO believes is his most important legacy. To the extent that he will be involved with foreign policy, it will be focused on the new SofS’s confirmation hearings (with lots of Benghazi questions coming from the GOP). After that it will take time for the new SofS to get settled in to say nothing about other international events that will invariably come up.

    By which time Bibi will have already been re-elected.


    Dave Boxthorn · November 7th, 2012 at 8:40 pm
  3. “To the extent that [Obama] will be involved with foreign policy, it will be focused on the new SofS’s confirmation hearings (with lots of Benghazi questions coming from the GOP). . . . . By which time Bibi will have already been re-elected.”

    This does, indeed, seem virtually inevitable. Though Obama undoubtedly finds Bibi as spectacularly repellent and obnoxious a specimen as the rest of humanity — Sheldon Adelson and Charles Krauthammer aside, of course — he’s exhibited neither the balls nor the principles to prevent Netanyahu from delivering the state into the hands of an ultra-nationalist cult of authoritarian religious fanatics that constitutes one of the most widely, intensely and justifiably loathed group of human beings occupying space on the planet Earth.

    As to Obama’s domestic agenda, I suspect little of his time will be taken up with any actual negotiating, given the fact that the Republican Party remains in the death grip of the same cesspool of bigots and religious fanatics as before the election. You know, the kind of buffoon that corners helpless coworkers with his incessant babbling about communist teleprompters, or, say, with pointed and oh-so-fresh references to Barack Hussein Obama.


    willie · November 11th, 2012 at 2:57 am
  4. Obama will not openly support Israel and will not do much even if openly at war. Israel is on its own, and Bibi is defending the right of Israel to exist. I support Israel and Bibi.


    Maria · November 19th, 2012 at 9:07 pm

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