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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Worse than ever?

The State Department's Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Prime Minister Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John FN Kerry have not spoken since a phone call ended due to 'communications problems' earlier this week.
Psaki said that Kerry has held discussions over the course of the last day with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and UN official Robert Serry.

Netanyahu's relations with the Obama administration have historically been rocky, but the disagreements over how to approach the Palestinian issue came into sharper focus during the recent Gaza crisis.

Last week, Netanyahu reportedly reprimanded the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, admonishing Washington "not to second-guess him again" over policy toward Hamas.

When asked about the quote during a news conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, the premier went out of his way to praise the Obama administration for its condemnation of Hamas' violation of the cease-fire last week as well as Washington's funding of the Iron Dome project.

Nonetheless, the administration has also used strong language to condemn Israeli shelling of UN-run schools in Gaza.
The JPost headlined this story as US-Israel ties at new low after Netanyahu-Kerry phone 'disconnect.' They don't back up the headline and I am not convinced the headline is correct, because Israel's relations in the United States are not solely dependent on its relations with the Obama administration.

There's an unspoken perception in Israel - largely backed up by the US media - that Obama is already a lame duck. His poll numbers in the US keep going from bad to worse, and the Republicans could yet control both of Houses of Congress by next January. Be that as it may, with the midterm elections ahead, the Obama administration can do little to harm Israel, at least until November. Right now, Israel's support in the US is solid, and most Americans seem to understand that Israel had little choice but to do what it did. Clearly, after Kerry forced us into the ceasefire last Friday which lasted only 90 minutes, Netanyahu had grounds to tell Shapiro (who actually was much more pro-Israel than his bosses during the recent war) not to second-guess him again when it comes to Hamas.

Sure, there's a lot of personal animosity between Obama and Netanyahu, but we're still a democracy and so is the US. Netanyahu's poll numbers are much better than Obama's.

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