Whereas his predecessors were consistently counted among Israel’s best friends in the international arena, US President Barack Obama is seen by the majority of Israelis as being either neutral or negative toward the Jewish state, according to a new survey.
Conducted late last month by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the poll revealed that only 37 percent of Israelis believe Obama has a “positive” attitude toward their country. An equal number labeled the American leader as “negative,” and the remainder listed him as neutral.
Even worse, as far as Israelis are concerned, has been Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and other regional issues.
Some 52 percent of respondents said Obama’s handling of the peace process had been “bad,” and 65 percent felt his policies in general had damaged America’s standing in the Middle East, which in turn harms Israel’s position.
Days after the results of the survey were published, reports leaked that the Obama White House was considering sanctions against Israel, a wholly unprecedented move for an American government.
According to the reports, Obama and his top aides had discussed sanctions as a means of deterring Israeli “settlement activity” and kick-starting the once-again stagnant peace process.
While the reports, which cited unnamed Israeli diplomats, remain unconfirmed, US congressional leaders aren’t taking any chances, and a letter to the president signed by 48 members of the House of Representatives read thus:
“Recent reports suggest that your administration has held classified meetings over the past several weeks to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Israel for its decision to construct homes in East Jerusalem. Israel is one of our strongest allies, and the mere notion that the administration would unilaterally impose sanctions against Israel is not only unwise, but is extremely worrisome.”
Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, reaffirming Israel as a “major strategic partner” of the US. The bill had already won unanimous support in the Senate back in September, and will now be placed on Obama’s desk for his signature.