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Reelection of Israeli PM Netanyahu Places Intense Pressure on President Obama and Current U.S.-Israel Relationship

( [email protected] ) Mar 19, 2015 07:23 PM EDT
Despite media reports claiming otherwise, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu survived a tough reelection campaign in the Jewish state. His unexpected strong campaign victory could drastically affect the current diplomatic relationship between Israel and the United States.
Benjamin Netanyahu wins reelection to become the Israel's longest serving Prime Minister. Photo: Reuters

Despite media reports claiming otherwise, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu survived a tough reelection campaign in the Jewish state. His unexpected strong campaign victory could drastically affect the current diplomatic relationship between Israel and the United States.

According to David Lauter and Paul Richter of the Seattle Times, the White House had harsh words for Netanyahu, who suggested during his election campaign that he would never support a two-state solution between his country and the Palestinians. Some within President Barack Obama's administration indicated that U.S. support for Israel at the United Nations could be drastically affected.

"The prime minister's recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We're not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action."

The Seattle Times reported that back in 2009, Netanyahu supported a "vision of peace" that included "two free peoples" in a two-state solution, a key point of U.S. foreign policy under both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush; he seemingly changed course on that position this week. White House press secretary Josh Earnest expressed concern "about rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens."

"It undermines the values and democratic ideals that have been important to our democracy and an important part of what binds the United States and Israel together," Earnest said.

An anonymous official within the Obama administration told the Seattle Times that although Netanyahu resorted to questionable campaign tactics to win the election, there would be consequences for his actions.

"Bibi needs to understand that there are policy ramifications for the way he did this," the official said about Netanyahu's rejection of the two-state solution. "You can't say all this and then just say, 'I was just kidding.'" 

According to Jeremy Diamond and Elise Labott of CNN, the suggestion of scaling back U.S. support for Israel at the United Nations would be a significant reversal in foreign policy. President Obama and Netanyahu have frequently clashed over various issues that affected both countries in the Middle East, which have led to a strained relationship.

"How their troubled relationship will affect cooperation on the high-stakes issues facing both countries -- Iran's nuclear program, regional violence and the future of the Palestinians -- remains to be seen," Diamond and Labott wrote. "But America's historic support for Israel at the U.N., as well as any White House ambitions of brokering further Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, [seems] likely to be affected sooner rather than later."

CNN elaborated on how the U.S. diplomats typically defended Israel at the U.N., which could change drastically thanks to Netanyahu's reelection.

"The U.S. typically uses its veto power to swat away any anti-Israel resolutions or Palestinian attempts at reaching statehood through the U.N.," Diamond and Labott wrote. "Now, American diplomats could instead authorize some resolutions after edits or abstain from voting on them."

CNN reported that it was Secretary of State John Kerry, not Obama, who called Netanyahu on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory. However, Earnest indicated that the president will call the Israeli prime minister "in the coming days."

Regardless of their political differences and approaches, some U.S. officials and members of Congress told CNN that U.S. security aid to Israel, along with close military cooperation, will remain unaffected.

"I think the military to military and intelligence cooperation is going to go on no matter who is in that office," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said.

Tags : Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, Israel-Palestine relations, government of Israel, US Government, Israel elections 2015, Netanyahu, Netanyahu election victory, Obama, President Barack Obama, President Obama, Obama Netanyahu relationship, US Israel relations, US Israel diplomatic relations, United Nations, US defense of Israel at UN, US foreign policy