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The United States and Israel relationship at a Crossroads?

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
Obama White House accuses Israel of spying to undermine Iran talks - CSMonitor.com

Obama White House accuses Israel of spying to undermine Iran talks

The already poor relationship between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks set to get worse, with Iran nuclear talks nearing an important deadline at the end of the month.

March 24, 2015

Members of the Obama White House are alleging that Israel has not only been spying on nuclear negotiations with Iran but has been using the information gleaned to undermine the efforts of the United States.

The already strained relationship between the White House and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a nosedive after the Israeli leader spoke to Congress on Iran, a move the White House felt was designed to undermine the president's efforts. Then, during campaigning for elections last week that will almost certainly see Mr. Netanyahu lead Israel's next coalition, he vowed never to allow a Palestinian state to emerge on his watch – undermining the premise of the so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Obama's frustration can now be seen in a greater willingness to place stories critical of Israel in the press.

Unnamed White House officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, say Israeli spies eavesdropped on the Iran nuclear talks as part of an effort to upend moves toward sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for a reduction in the scope of its program. US officials are most upset by Israel’s efforts to upset the talks by using the information gained from the spying in Netanyahu’s speech to Congress earlier this month.

"It is one thing for the US and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal US secrets and play them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy," an unnamed senior White House official said in the report.

Israel denies the allegations, saying it gained the information through monitoring Iranian leaders and other sources. A senior official in Netanyahu's office called the accusations “utterly false.”

News of the espionage broke the same day as the White House criticized Netanyahu for his pre-election vow to oppose an independent Palestinian state, a statement he has since tried to walk back.

“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told a meeting of American pro-Israel lobbyists.

Relations between the two countries have noticeably cooled over the Iran issue. Netanyahu steadfastly opposes any sanctions concessions to Iran, and instead wants the US to increase the financial pressure. In early March, Netanyahu broke protocol when he accepted a Republican invitation to address Congress without notifying the White House first.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner last week announced that he would lead a group of lawmakers to Israel at the end of March, around the same time as the current deadline for a preliminary agreement between Iran and the world powers negotiating with the Islamic Republic – the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China.

Foreign Policy’s David Francis writes that Boehner's visit could show up Obama and deepen the political divides over already tense international negotiations.

But the partisan nature of the trip is hard to ignore, as it further cements Republicans and Netanyahu as allies determined to sink an agreement between world powers and Tehran.

… Boehner’s visit is a win-win: If the talks fail, he and Netanyahu will have a forum to tell Israelis and Americans it was a bad idea from the start and to blast Obama for pursuing it. If a deal is reached, the speaker can make the case that it won’t last beyond the end of the president’s second term while arguing that it would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and threaten America’s most important ally in the Middle East.

 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
Israel denies 'utterly false' claims it spied on U.S. - Diplomacy and Defense - Israel News | Haaretz

Israel denies 'utterly false' claims it spied on U.S.


Moshe Ya'alon denies report claiming Israel eavesdropped on talks with Iran, says allegations are meant to 'stir conflict.'

File photo: Ya'alon and Netanyahu during a security briefing near Beit El, March 10, 2015 Photo by Ohad Zwigenberg

By Barak Ravid | Mar. 24, 2015

Israel on Tuesday vehemently denied claims that it had spied on the U.S. during the Iranian negotiations, as reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Official in the Prime Minister’s Office called the allegations "utterly false."

"The State of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share," they said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Israel had not received an official complaint from the American administration over such claims and that "there is no way, and there was no way, that Israel spied on the Americans. That is seriously forbidden among every level of Israel's policy leaders."

"Israel's security-intelligence relationship with the U.S. has suffered no harm, someone is just trying to stir conflict," Ya'alon said. "It's a shame that such winds are blowing into the clandestine channels in which we conduct this relationship."

According to the WSJ report, Israel spied on closed-door nuclear talks between the United States and Iran last year in order to build a case against the impending deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government reportedly sought to acquire information on the negotiations, in turn using said information to lobby members of Congress against the agreement.

In addition to eavesdropping on closed-door talks, the report said, Israel “acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe.”

The White House discovered the operation when U.S. intelligence agencies spying on Israel "intercepted communications among Israeli officials that carried details the U.S. believed could have come only from access to the confidential talks.”

However, the Obama administration was far more concerned with Israel's alleged leaking of information to Congress in order to derail a potential deal.

“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other," a senior U.S. official told the Journal. "It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy.”

The report cited Israeli officials as saying that Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer knew the intervention would damage ties with the White House, but decided that was a tolerable cost.

Nevertheless, the campaign may have backfired, Israeli officials said, because it alienated congressional Democrats whose support was key to blocking the deal.

The report cited interviews with more than a dozen current and former diplomats, intelligence officials, policy makers and lawmakers in the U.S. and Israel.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
Netanyahu's Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents - The Intercept
Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

Israel’s claim is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world. Indeed, so concerted and aggressive are Israeli efforts against the U.S. that some key U.S. Government documents – including the top secret 2013 intelligence budget – list Israel among the U.S.’s most threatening cyber-adversaries and as a “hostile” foreign intelligence service.

One top secret 2008 document features an interview with the NSA’s Global Capabilities Manager for Countering Foreign Intelligence, entitled “Which Foreign Intelligence Service Is the Biggest Threat to the US?” He repeatedly names Israel as one of the key threats.

While noting that Russia and China do the most effective spying on U.S., he says that “Israel also targets us.” He explains that “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked [Israel] as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.” While praising the surveillance relationship with Israel as highly valuable, he added: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel.” Specifically, the Israelis “target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems.”



Other NSA documents voice the grievance that Israel gets far more out of the intelligence-sharing relationship than the U.S. does. One top secret 2007 document, entitled “History of the US – Israel SIGINT Relationship, post 1992,” describes the cooperation that takes place as highly productive and valuable, and, indeed, top secret documents previously reported by the Intercept and the Guardian leave no doubt about the very active intelligence-sharing relationship that takes place between the two countries. Yet that same document complains that the relationship even after 9/11 was almost entirely one-sided in favor of serving Israeli rather than U.S. interests:



The U.S. perception of Israel as a threat as much as an ally is also evidenced by the so-called “black budget” of 2013, previously referenced by the Washington Post, which lists Israel in multiple places as a key intelligence “target” and even a “hostile foreign intelligence service” among several other countries typically thought of as the U.S.’s most entrenched adversaries:



The same budget document reveals that the CIA regards Israel – along with Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and Cuba – as a “priority threat country,” one against which it “conduct offensive [counter-intelligence] operations in collaboration with DoD”:



One particular source of concern for U.S. intelligence are the means used by Israel to “influence anti-regime elements in Iran,” including its use of “propaganda and other active measures”:



What is most striking about all of this is the massive gap between (a) how American national security officials talk privately about the Israelis and (b) how they have talked for decades about the Israelis for public consumption – at least until the recent change in public rhetoric from Obama officials about Israel, which merely brings publicly expressed American views more in line with how U.S. government officials have long privately regarded their “ally.” The NSA refused to comment for this article.

Previously reported stories on Israeli spying, by themselves, leave no doubt how false Netanyahu’s statement is. A Der Spiegel article from last fall revealed that “Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations.” A Le Monde article described how NSA documents strongly suggest that a massive computer hack of the French presidential palace in 2012 was likely carried about by the Israelis. A 2014 article from Newsweek‘s Jeff Stein revealed that when it comes to surveillance, “the Jewish state’s primary target” is “America’s industrial and technical secrets” and that “Israel’s espionage activities in America are unrivaled and unseemly.”

All of these stories, along with these new documents, leave no doubt that, at least as the NSA and other parts of the U.S. National Security State see it, Netanyahu’s denials are entirely false: the Israelis engage in active and aggressive espionage against the U.S., even as the U.S. feeds the Israelis billions of dollars every year in U.S. taxpayer funds and protects every Israeli action at the U.N. Because of the U.S. perception of Israel as a “threat” and even a “hostile” foreign intelligence service – facts they discuss only privately, never publicly – the U.S. targets Israel for all sorts of espionage as well.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member

Former Mideast Peace Envoy George Mitchell on U.S.-Israel Showdown over Iran, Palestinian Statehood

Published on Mar 31, 2015
http://democracynow.org - George Mitchell, the former senator and U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under President Obama, joins us to discuss the escalating U.S.-Israel standoff over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign against an Iran nuclear deal and open rejection of the two-state solution. Last week, it emerged Israeli intelligence spied on the Iran talks and then fed the information to congressional Republicans. Obama and other top officials have vowed to re-evaluate their approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict following Netanyahu’s vow to prevent a Palestinian state. U.S. officials have suggested they might take steps, including no longer vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. A first test of the new U.S. approach might come in the next few weeks when France will put forward a U.N. Security Council measure aimed at encouraging peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Mitchell headed the U.S. role in the Mideast talks between 2009 and 2011. He previously served under President Bill Clinton, as the Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, where he helped broker the Belfast Peace Agreement of 1998.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
Obama warns Israel could lose US support at UN - Telegraph

Obama warns Israel could lose US support at UN

US president warns lack of progress in peace talks and Israeli PM's stance on a Palestinian state leave Israel in danger of losing "credibility"


Barack Obama said Benjamin Netanyahu is in danger of losing "credibility" Photo: AP

Barack Obama has warned that America's veto in support of Israel at the UN is increasingly "difficult" because of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wavering stance on a Palestinian state.


Mr Obama said the lack of progress in peace efforts, and Mr Netanyahu's apparent about-turn on support for a two-state solution before and after the recent Israel elections, mean Israel is in danger of losing "credibility".


Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AP)

"Up until this point, we have pushed away against European efforts, for example, or other efforts because we've said, the only way this gets resolved is if the two parties work together," said Mr Obama in the interview with Israel's channel 2 on Tuesday.

"If, in fact, there's no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there's a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation."

In response to a question about Mr Netanyahu's comments regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state before and after March elections, Mr Obama said: "The danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution."

Mr Netanyahu sparked international concern when he ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state while campaigning for the March 17 general election but later backtracked on the comments.

On Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said he was committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, calling on the Palestinian leadership to return to negotiations unconditionally.

Mr Obama however said Mr Netanyahu's statements on the subject after the election have had "so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met any time in the near future."

"And I think that it is difficult to simply accept at face value the statement made after an election that would appear to look as if this is simply an effort to return to the previous status quo in which we talk about peace in the abstract, but it's always tomorrow, it's always later," Mr Obama said.

Prospects for a renewal of peace talks, which fell apart in April 2014, look bleak with the lack of trust between the sides exacerbated by the formation of Mr Netanyahu's new hardline coalition after the recent elections.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
 Advertisement

Obama clearly offered Israel a kid-glove ultimatum
Every Israeli should take to heart and internalize: The issue is not what America wants but what Israel must do for its own good.


President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pictured together in 2010. Photo by Reuters

Can I tell you something? Watching the interview with President Obama on TV Channel 2’s “Uvda” (“Fact”) magazine filled me with envy. Why don’t we have leaders like that, without tricks and gimmicks, ones who present their core beliefs without waving around silly diagrams and illustrations? How soothing it was to listen to a leader who doesn’t trigger an anxiety attack after every sentence he utters, by imparting a feeling that our end is nigh.

He didn’t even look like French President Charles De Gaulle, who called us “our friend and ally,” yet imposed an arms embargo on the eve of the 1967 war. With one stroke he broke off the wonderful friendship we were so sure was there for eternity, sending us straight into the bosom of the “Orient.” How could we not understand that the “Orient” for French diplomacy was always biased toward the Arab world?

When asked by his interviewer Ilana Dayan whether he holds a grudge against Bibi, especially after his shameful conduct in deciding to appear before the United States Congress, he hesitated for a few seconds. It was clear that if he is angry, he would not express it during that interview. “Imagine if I came before the Knesset without an invitation and negotiated with the Labor Party and its leader.” Then he paused, smiled and moved on. “I understand you’re not a hugger,” Dayan suggested helpfully.

The president was unwilling to retract positive words he had said about Netanyahu in the early stages of the latter’s term. He was willing to add a few statements that every Israeli should take to heart and internalize: The issue is not what America wants but what Israel must do for its own good; the issue is who is acting in a way that will make Israel secure; I was there when Israel’s security was on the line; I have to tell the truth as I see it; there is a politics of trust and one of intimidation. He added another important point: I’m appealing to the Israeli public. In other words, not to Netanyahu.

Obama is not a back-slapping, chummy kind of team player. Between the lines it was evident that he doesn’t really appreciate being bad-mouthed by Netanyahu in the U.S. He won’t behave as De Gaulle did, telling an enthusiastic million Frenchmen who gathered to welcome him in Algeria that he understood them, only to go ahead and do the opposite of what they wanted, repatriating settlers – excuse me, Frenchmen – to France.

On a personal level, the relations between Bibi and Obama are at an unprecedented nadir. What has transpired in Europe, with its various types of boycott, is gradually creeping into the U.S., starting with isolated pockets of opposition on campuses and continuing with a sharp turn in the attitude of U.S. media toward Israel. This includes professional journals that refuse to publish work by Israeli academics.

We are digging our own pit. The harsher the criticism becomes, the harder it will be to stop it. That’s what it was like in South Africa during the apartheid years. This writer remembers the words of a senior official in the apartheid regime, who said that if South Africa had five million South Africans in the U.S. (the number of Jews there at the time), no one would boycott it. He was wrong, as is anyone else who thinks so. The creeping sanctions against Bibi’s Israel may reach a point at which it is too large even for [influential billionaires] Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson.

One can’t rule only on the basis of intimidation – you are a country that was established on a basis of human rights, the president complimented us. He views the neutralization of a nuclear Iran as his greatest task. Let me get this deal done, he said, since it’s a good one. When I finish I’ll return to the peace process here.

That’s what the president is telling us: I’ll get you security in all areas but, my friends, you are losing the world and the values that underpin your independence. It wasn’t difficult to understand - this was a kid-glove ultimatum.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
Israel Has Lost Credibility in Peace Process, Obama Says

Israel Has Lost Credibility in Peace Process, Obama Says


President Barack Obama pauses during remarks on Jewish American History Month at the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in Washington, May 22, 2015.

President Barack Obama says Israel is losing international credibility over whether it is serious about a peace settlement that includes a Palestinian state.

Obama made his comments in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 television, broadcast Tuesday.

The president was asked about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election statement this year that there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Netanyahu has since sought to walk back from those remarks, but his peace overtures have met with skepticism from the Palestinians as well as Western diplomats.

Obama said Netanyahu's position "has so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met at any time in the near future. So the danger is that Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution."

Long break in talks

The last round of U.S.-sponsored talks stalled more than a year ago, with Palestinians blaming Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, among the territories where they seek an independent state.

Obama said now was the time for a re-evaluation of "how we approach defending Israel on the international stage around the Palestinian issue."

He cited pro-Palestinian resolutions at the United Nations that Washington has long blocked in the name of encouraging direct diplomacy between the sides. Asked whether such U.S. vetoes would continue, Obama sounded circumspect.

"Well, here's the challenge. If in fact there is no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there is a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation," he said. "It is more difficult for me to say to them, 'Be patient, wait, because we have a process here.' "

Obama said in the interview that Israeli politics are "motivated only by fear."

"I think Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who's predisposed to think of security first, to think perhaps that peace is naive, to see the worst possibilities as opposed to the best possibilities in Arab partners or Palestinian partners," the president said.

Friction with White House

Netanyahu's comments about the Palestinians and his nonstop denouncement of the nuclear talks with Iran — especially his appearance before the U.S. Congress in March — have angered the Obama administration.

The prime minister has repeatedly warned that any nuclear deal with Iran would be a bad deal and still leave it with the ability to build a bomb, putting Israel in grave danger.

But Obama said diplomacy, not military action, is the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. He said he understood Israel's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran, but he has said many times that Israeli security is a top U.S. priority.

Netanyahu's office did not immediately comment on the Obama interview. Speaking at an Israeli missile defense drill earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu stressed the need for self-sufficiency:

"When it comes to Israel's security, I rely, first of all, on ourselves."
 

Republican

Legendary Member
Wonder how she'd feel about Jew jokes

***


Wife of Israeli politician tweets racist Obama joke – and social media reacts


Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes quickly deleted the offending tweet and apologises – but it was too late to avoid mounting criticism: ‘You’d better erase this’

The wife of a senior Israeli minister sparked outrage on Sunday by posting a racist joke about President Barack Obama on Twitter.

Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, a well-known face on Israeli TV and the wife of the country’s interior minister Silvan Shalom, quickly deleted the offending tweet – but it was too late to avoid mounting criticism.

The post that set off a wave of international public anger was short and to the point.

“Do you know what Obama coffee is? Black and weak”, Mozes tweeted in English.

Protests on Twitter came swiftly in English and Hebrew, including messages such as “Have you gone mad?” and “You’d better erase this … frighteningly racist”.

After deleting the tweet, Mozes posted: “I apologise, that was a stupid joke somebody told me.”

But Twitter users had already taken screen shots of the offensive message.

One user posted: “How human garbage works … Delete plus fake apology. Clearly found the racist joke funny enough to share. Trash”.

Mozes has been involved in social-media controversy before.

In 2012 she was nominated to represent Unicef, the United Nations body dealing with children’s rights and emergency needs, in Israel, and was set to join a sparkling list of royal and celebrity ambassadors that has included David Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Queen Rania of Jordan, Shakira and Sir Roger Moore.

But according to the Jerusalem Post, she resigned after whipping up a political storm when she posted messages to Facebook vociferously supporting Israel’s military bombardment of Gaza and referring to Palestinians there simply as “people whose children are fed hate towards Israel ... who have it in their DNA to hate us”.

In the US, Mozes’ Tweet hit raw nerves. On Sunday, the subject of race was once again leading every news outlet, days after a 21-year-old white man shot dead nine black worshippers in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

One Twitter user wrote: “Wife of Israeli interior minister @JudyMozes tweeted racist slur [about] POTUS (President of the United States) while we mourn loss of 9 [because] of racism.”

Mozes appeared to compound her predicament, posting another joking statement, which began “Sorry if I caused offense to anyone” and added that she hoped she would still be married when her husband heard about the row.

A minute later she addressed a Tweet to “President Obama” and referred to her joke as inappropriate, saying she liked people “no matter about their race or religion”.

Wife of Israeli politician tweets racist Obama joke – and social media reacts | World news | The Guardian


***
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
After Iran deal, Obama struggles to gain Israel's trust - US News

After Iran deal, Obama faces uphill struggle in gaining the trust of Israelis


FILE - In this Sunday, June 14, 2009 file photo, an Israeli man tears posters hung by an extremist right wing group, depicting U.S. President Barack Obama, wearing a traditional Arab headdress, in Jerusalem. Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, President Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual.

Wide swaths of the Israeli public, particularly supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have little trust in the American leader, considering him naive and even hostile. One recent poll showed less than a tenth considered him "pro-Israel."

Such misgivings bode poorly for Obama as he tries to repair ties with Israel in the final year of his presidency, and they would certainly complicate any renewed effort at brokering peace between Israel and its neighbors — once a major Obama ambition.


The tense personal relationship between Netanyahu and Obama are certainly a factor in the poor state of affairs, and Netanyahu has made a number of missteps that have contributed to the tensions.

On a trip to the White House in 2011, the Israeli leader appeared to lecture Obama on the pitfalls of Mideast peacemaking. Netanyahu has close ties to the billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, and during the 2012 presidential race, Netanyahu appeared to favor Obama's challenger, Mitt Romney.

Netanyahu's U.S.-born ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, is a former Republican activist, and earlier this year, Netanyahu angered the White House by delivering a speech to Congress against the emerging Iran deal at the invitation of Republican leaders. Netanyahu has continued to lobby American lawmakers to oppose the Iran deal since it was finalized in July.

But Obama also bears responsibility for a number of policy decisions that have jolted Israelis' faith in him.

"The average Israeli probably thinks that he is a nice guy, but he is naive," said Alexander Yakobson, a historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In Israeli eyes, "he doesn't get the Middle East, doesn't understand how the Mideast functions, and he doesn't therefore understand what dangers Israel has to face," he added.

Yakobson said the president's missteps went back to his earliest days in office, when he chose to deliver a landmark speech in Cairo seeking to repair American relations with the Arab world. "That was never going to make him popular in Israel," he said.

Yakobson, who himself agrees with Obama's opposition to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, said the president had nonetheless mishandled disagreements with Netanyahu over the issue and peace efforts with the Palestinians that collapsed last year. Many Israelis, he said, believe the Palestinians also deserve some of the blame.

But the biggest issue has been the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran. Politicians across the spectrum have come out against the deal, agreeing with Netanyahu's assessment that it does not have sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to make a nuclear bomb and that it will boost Iran's influence across the region. Iran is a key backer of Israel's toughest enemies, and Netanyahu has warned that the ending of sanctions against Iran will result in more money and arms flowing to groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Recent opinion polls reflect these sentiments. In one survey published Sunday in the Maariv daily, 77 percent of respondents said the deal endangers Israel, compared to 15 percent who said it didn't. The poll interviewed 500 people and had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

An April survey of Jewish Israelis, carried out just after a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran was reached, had an equally harsh view of Obama. Just 9 percent of respondents described the White House as "pro-Israeli," while 60 percent called it "pro-Palestinian." More than 60 percent described Obama as the worst president for Israel in the past 30 years, far outdistancing runner-up Jimmy Carter at 16 percent.
 

J. Abizeid

Well-Known Member
After Iran deal, Obama struggles to gain Israel's trust - US News

After Iran deal, Obama faces uphill struggle in gaining the trust of Israelis


FILE - In this Sunday, June 14, 2009 file photo, an Israeli man tears posters hung by an extremist right wing group, depicting U.S. President Barack Obama, wearing a traditional Arab headdress, in Jerusalem. Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, President Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual.

Wide swaths of the Israeli public, particularly supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have little trust in the American leader, considering him naive and even hostile. One recent poll showed less than a tenth considered him "pro-Israel."

Such misgivings bode poorly for Obama as he tries to repair ties with Israel in the final year of his presidency, and they would certainly complicate any renewed effort at brokering peace between Israel and its neighbors — once a major Obama ambition.


The tense personal relationship between Netanyahu and Obama are certainly a factor in the poor state of affairs, and Netanyahu has made a number of missteps that have contributed to the tensions.

On a trip to the White House in 2011, the Israeli leader appeared to lecture Obama on the pitfalls of Mideast peacemaking. Netanyahu has close ties to the billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, and during the 2012 presidential race, Netanyahu appeared to favor Obama's challenger, Mitt Romney.

Netanyahu's U.S.-born ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, is a former Republican activist, and earlier this year, Netanyahu angered the White House by delivering a speech to Congress against the emerging Iran deal at the invitation of Republican leaders. Netanyahu has continued to lobby American lawmakers to oppose the Iran deal since it was finalized in July.

But Obama also bears responsibility for a number of policy decisions that have jolted Israelis' faith in him.

"The average Israeli probably thinks that he is a nice guy, but he is naive," said Alexander Yakobson, a historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In Israeli eyes, "he doesn't get the Middle East, doesn't understand how the Mideast functions, and he doesn't therefore understand what dangers Israel has to face," he added.

Yakobson said the president's missteps went back to his earliest days in office, when he chose to deliver a landmark speech in Cairo seeking to repair American relations with the Arab world. "That was never going to make him popular in Israel," he said.

Yakobson, who himself agrees with Obama's opposition to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, said the president had nonetheless mishandled disagreements with Netanyahu over the issue and peace efforts with the Palestinians that collapsed last year. Many Israelis, he said, believe the Palestinians also deserve some of the blame.

But the biggest issue has been the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran. Politicians across the spectrum have come out against the deal, agreeing with Netanyahu's assessment that it does not have sufficient safeguards to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to make a nuclear bomb and that it will boost Iran's influence across the region. Iran is a key backer of Israel's toughest enemies, and Netanyahu has warned that the ending of sanctions against Iran will result in more money and arms flowing to groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Recent opinion polls reflect these sentiments. In one survey published Sunday in the Maariv daily, 77 percent of respondents said the deal endangers Israel, compared to 15 percent who said it didn't. The poll interviewed 500 people and had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

An April survey of Jewish Israelis, carried out just after a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran was reached, had an equally harsh view of Obama. Just 9 percent of respondents described the White House as "pro-Israeli," while 60 percent called it "pro-Palestinian." More than 60 percent described Obama as the worst president for Israel in the past 30 years, far outdistancing runner-up Jimmy Carter at 16 percent.
 
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