A president but not an ATM
The commitment to Israel's security won't change fundamentally, but some nuances might. We'll still have a friend in the White House, but not an ATM that operates according to Netanyahu's vision. The danger doesn't lie with Barack Obama in his second term, but with Bibi.
If I were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I'd immediately appoint a small and discreet team to prepare a plan to rehabilitate relations with Barack Obama. Because even the president of the United States is a human being, and he has every reason to be suspicious of Netanyahu, who worked with billionaire Sheldon Adelson in an attempt to get Mitt Romney elected.
In both Bibi's terms as prime minister, he tried to create the impression he was a pal of the U.S. president. During Bill Clinton's presidency, he even invited himself, his wife and two children to the Oval Office, the holy of holies, where his kids were photographed throwing pillows at each other. An embarrassing incident, not forgotten by veteran White House aides.
Obama has sufficient reason to turn his associates' loathing for Netanyahu into part of his policy during his second term. Some of his close aides are even trying to convince him to be less gentle in treating the Netanyahu government.
But "revenge" doesn't suit Obama. He was elected due to a clear demographic change in America, and he is expected to be active on the domestic front. America's long-term commitment to Israel's survival won't suffer, but it could develop into a dispute on nuances in defining the two countries' agenda. Will it suit the taste of the Bibi-Lieberman government, the government that reigns or will reign in Israel? Probably not.
Obama won't drop the tradition of a basic commitment to Israel's security, but neither will he drop his administration's harsh feelings about the difficulties Israel's conduct is causing; after all, it needs help in international forums - in the United Nations and at the Security Council. The gesture to the U.S. president on the eve of the election actually came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an interview with Channel 2: an offer to open peace negotiations with Israel.
This may have been Abbas' new stratagem for trying to be accepted into the United Nations, an attempt Obama has torpedoed in the past. Whether it's a stratagem or an honest invitation, what prevented Netanyahu from inviting him immediately to Jerusalem to discuss the offer? For how many more months and years will Bibi, who publicly brought up the idea of two states for two peoples, appear to be obsessively refusing peace?
Particularly depressing is that nobody in politics who wants to bring down Bibi has said the invitation should be accepted - aside from former Kadima leaders Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert, the two who are still outside the race. Even if they thought it was a trick, that was all the more reason to respond. We're good at empty gestures, too.
The America of Obama's second term won't abandon us, but it might make our lives miserable. It might not respond to one request or another that's important to us. It might not torpedo, for example, the attempt to make the "Palestinian state" an observer country at the United Nations. It might strengthen the opposition to an Israeli military operation against Iran, to the point of a threat to impose sanctions on Israel if it takes action without U.S. approval. And it might reach an agreement with Iran on nuclear weapons that Israel won't like; Israel might not even know what the deal contains.
Obama is a president who hasn't gotten involved in a war. The last soldier left Iraq as Obama committed to be active on the domestic front, to take care of the economy and fight unemployment. During his second term he will also aspire to be a world leader, which he isn't yet, and justify the Nobel Peace Prize he won without bringing any peace to the world.
The commitment to Israel's security won't change fundamentally, but some nuances might. We'll still have a friend in the White House, but not an ATM that operates according to Bibi's vision. The danger doesn't lie with Obama in his second term, but with Bibi, who during his third term is liable to lead us nowhere, in the most dangerous and flammable region in the world.
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