The New York Times’ Helene Cooper writes that Benjamin Netanyahu’s obstinacy to President Obama’s position on ’settlement’ expansion could leave him unpopular at home for fear that the American-Israeli bond might deteriorate:
The measures under discussion — all largely symbolic — include stepping back from America’s near-uniform support for Israel in the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said.
Other measures include refraining from the instant Security Council veto of United Nations resolutions that Israel opposes and making use of Mr. Obama’s bully pulpit to criticize the settlements, officials said. Placing conditions on loan guarantees to Israel, as the first President Bush did nearly 20 years ago, is not under discussion, officials said.
Still, talk of even symbolic actions that would publicly show the United States’ ire with Israel, its longtime ally, would be a sharp departure from the previous administration, which limited its distaste with Israel’s settlement expansions to carefully worded diplomatic statements that called them “unhelpful.”
Mr. Obama is to give a much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world from Egypt on Thursday. “There are things that could get the attention of the Israeli public,” a senior administration official said, touching on the widespread belief within the administration that any Israeli prime minister risks political peril if the Israeli electorate views him as endangering the country’s relationship with the United States.
If Mr. Netanyahu decides to attack Iran despite Mr. Obama’s overtures to the revolutionary regime, what then are the prospects for American-Israeli relations? It appears that Bibi needs to change the diplomatic equation — and fast — before he becomes isolated from abroad, and consequentially loses his support at home. The result might be ominous in the face of a nuclear-armed Iran: more concilliatory gestures that will expose Israel to threats that would jeopardize its very existence.