Though it won’t admit as much, the Obama Administration appears poised to punish Israel for daring to re-elect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and by such a large margin.
The White House’s dissatisfaction with last Tuesday’s election results became apparent when it took no fewer than three days for President Barack Obama to call and congratulate Netanyahu on his victory.
American media was less subtle, openly suggesting that Obama was looking to punish Netanyahu, and by extension the majority of Israelis who voted for Likud and other right-wing parties.
The New York Times revealed that the Obama Administration was presently reconsidering its policies vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and might no longer use its veto to prevent unilateral moves by the Palestinian Authority at the UN Security Council.
More than anything, Obama seems upset that Israel so firmly placed Netanyahu back in office even after the latter declared just days before the elections that the creation of a Palestinian state is, at present, a non-starter.
Unless the Palestinians themselves come up with a creative and acceptable new solution, the bilateral peace process is for now dead, and that doesn’t bode well for Obama’s legacy.
Washington has also signaled disapproval of Netanyahu’s fear-mongering during the elections, when he declared that “the Arabs are storming the polls and will overthrow the government.” It is widely believed that tactic spurred a massive turnout of Likud voters, and sealed Netanyahu’s victory.
Following the elections, Netanyahu clarified that he and all of Israel continue to seek a political horizon with the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, but that the current situation under the current Palestinian leadership simply doesn’t lend itself to a positive outcome. For this, Israelis cannot be blamed.