Obama vetted Lapid as future Prime Minister of Israelreplace him with Yair Lapid? Well, maybe. Here's Aaron Klein.
Let’s look at the clues. Netanyahu’s decision last week to disband his coalition came when he dismissed his finance minister, Yair Lapid, and his justice minister, Tzipi Livni, both of whom have not disguised their ambitions for the country’s highest office. Tellingly, both took advantage of the steady stream of US criticism toward Netanyahu by leading an escalating public campaign in which they repeatedly accused Netanyahu of causing this dangerous rift in relations with Israel’s most important ally.
Case in point. In October, Israel’s Ynet news website reported that a request by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to meet with US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice during his visit to Washington had been denied by the White House. This reported move is highly unusual, and was a nearly unprecedented snub of Netanyahu’s government. It helped to set off a firestorm against Netanyahu in Israel, particularly among the center and the left, with Livni and Lapid leading the charge.
Also in October, in what can only be viewed as an orchestrated campaign, the US espoused uncharacteristically harsh language to oppose a plan for Israel to build 2,610 new homes on empty lots in Givat Hamatos, a Jerusalem neighborhood in the eastern section of the city where Palestinians want to build a future state.
Immediately following a meeting between Netanyahu and President Obama in October, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and White House spokesman Josh Earnest took the Israeli leader’s delegation by surprise when they released nearly identical statements slamming the Jerusalem construction. They warned the housing plans could distance Israel from its “closest allies,” a clear euphemism for the US, and questioned whether Netanyahu was interested in peace. Netanyahu for his part said at the time that he was “baffled” by the US criticism, stating the American position “doesn’t really reflect American values.”
As if on queue, Lapid and Livni raced to endorse the US condemnation and accuse Netanyahu once again of damaging US-Israeli relations. That month, Lapid took further issue with Netanyahu’s plan to build roughly 400 homes in Har Homa and about 600 in Ramat Shlomo. “This plan will lead to a serious crisis in Israel-US relations and will harm Israel’s standing in the world,” Lapid said.In another seemingly orchestrated development, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in October described relations between the US and Israel as a “full-blown crisis” and reported that senior Obama administration officials had called Netanyahu “chickenshit” on matters related to the so-called peace process. Goldberg gratuitously added that Bibi is a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat.
Adding more fuel to the anti-Bibi firestorm, Ha'aretz reported last week the Obama administration had held a classified discussion a few weeks earlier about possibly taking more proactive measures against the “settlements,” including mulling sanctions or punishing Israel at the United Nations. While the State Department dismissed the claims as "unfounded and completely without merit," the Ha'aretz article is already providing more fodder to target Bibi.Here’s the kicker. In March, an informed diplomatic source in Jerusalem told me that representatives of the Obama administration held meetings with Lapid to check him out politically and to discuss the kind of prime minister he would make if he won elections in the future. The diplomatic source said the Obama administration identified Lapid as a moderate who would support Israeli-Palestinian talks. While the alleged meeting might have been as innocent as getting to know the powerful finance minister, the claim does fuel the perception of Obama administration tentacles working surreptitiously to change the political order in the Jewish state.
Read the whole thing. Shabbat Shalom.