Israel was abuzz over the weekend with news that a recent meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro became heated after the Israeli leader criticized US President Barack Obama for not doing enough to thwart Iran's nuclear program.
The Netanyahu-Shapiro meeting took place behind closed doors two weeks ago. Last Friday, Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot cited unnamed sources present at the meeting as saying "sparks and lightning were flying" when the two men discussed the Iran situation.
According to the sources, Netanyahu openly blasted what he called Obama's ineffectual policies vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program, which Israel views as an existential threat considering the Iranian leadership's very public declarations that it wishes to annihilate the Jewish state.
Netanyahu and many other Israeli leaders have been vocal in their criticism of Obama and the entire international community for punishing Iran with little more than words while the Islamic Republic has continued its defiant nuclear program with only minor hindrance.
Netanyahu reportedly told Shapiro that instead of worrying about whether or not Israel will strike Iran, Obama should focus on the root of the problem and put some real pressure on Tehran.
At that point, Shapiro was said to have broken diplomatic protocol and snapped back at Netanyahu, insisting that the Israeli leader was misrepresenting Obama's position. Shapiro then reiterated Obama's promise to not allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons, to which Netanyahu responded, "Time is running out."
Israeli cabinet ministers who spoke to Yediot's Internet portal, Ynet, said they believe Obama will make Netanyahu pay if the former is reelected as America's president in November.
At present, Obama cannot risk being seen as creating a rift between America and Israel, lest he lose the votes of most Jews and many Christians. But after the election, Obama will have no such constraints.
"The US elections are in two months, and there is no doubt that President Barack Obama, if he is reelected, will make Netanyahu pay for his behavior. It will not pass quietly," one minister told Ynet.
Already there are indications that Obama is taking a more hostile position toward Israel.
For instance, next month Israel and the US were scheduled to hold their largest ever joint military exercise, which was to be largely focused on confronting a major ballistic missile threat (read: Iran). But over the weekend, the Pentagon suddenly and significantly downsized American participation in the exercise.
"Relations between Israel and the US have soured" as a result of differing views on the urgency of the Iran situation, concluded another cabinet minister.