Israel's mainstream media on Monday viewed US President Barack Obama's recent interview with Bloomberg as a direct threat that the Jewish state had better accept America's Middle East peace proposal, or else.
In the interview, held in the Oval Office last Thursday, Obama appeared to lay all the blame for the lack of a peace deal with the Palestinians squarely on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's shoulders.
"If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?" Obama asked, insisting that if Netanyahu "does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach."
Bloomberg correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg called Obama's remarks "striking" and "blunter about Israel’s future than I've ever heard him."
Obama went on to stress that if an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord is not reached, it is Israel that will pay the price in terms of isolation and international boycotts, and, apparently, Obama's America won't be there to defend its ally.
That harsh interview was published less than a day before Netanyahu was scheduled to arrive in Washington to meet with Obama, a sit-down that the Israeli leader probably thought would be less tense than his previous encounters with the president.
In truth, Netanyahu has not really been all that resistant to the American peace proposal drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry, as it meets most of Israel's conditions for a final status agreement, or at least for negotiations working toward that goal.
As became obvious last week in Paris, the real obstacle is Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who nearly walked out of a meeting with Kerry after labeling his proposal as "madness" for calling on the Palestinians to recognize the "Jewish state" and give up their claims to half of Jerusalem.
Upon landing in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu told reporters that Israel remains ready to move toward a peace deal, but that the Palestinians need to actually show up and accept the agreement.
"The tango in the Middle East needs at least three. For years there have been two -- Israel and the US," said Netanyahu. "Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present."