Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel Moves Quickly to Congratulate Obama

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Israel Moves Quickly to Congratulate Obama

Article excerpt

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to congratulate President Obama on his reelection by paying tribute to an US-Israel alliance that, in his words, is "rock solid," though the upbeat statement belied widespread anxiety by Israelis that the leaders rocky relations would continue to cloud ties.

Now that Mr. Obama is free of the constraints of reelection, Israelis worry that he will feel less compelled to mollify Mr. Netanyahu on disputes over the Palestinian peace process and blocking Irans nuclear program. Obama has pushed Israel to renew talks with the Palestinians and has refused a request from Netanyahu to publicly set a "red line" for military action against Irans nuclear program.

Alluding to the tension with language that seemed lifted from GOP candidate Mitt Romney's talking points, parliament member Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu's Likud Party, expressed hope the president "resets his course relating to Israel and our region for the next four years. Rather than dictating ill-advised policies that endanger the wellbeing of America's only true ally in the Middle East, now is the time for President Obama to return to the wise and time-honored policy of 'zero daylight' between our respective nations.''

If Obama pushes more diplomatic talks with Iran while allowing it to continue to enrich uranium, sore spots with the US are likely persist like they did late into the election campaign, says one political expert.

"We all know that relations between Obama and Netanyahu have been tense at times," says Ephraim Inbar, a political science professor at Bar Ilan University. "Israel will have difficulty swallowing" policies considered to be "appeasement" of Iran.

During the past four years, Israelis have often described relations as sinking to a two-decade low as a result of the flare- ups.

The Palestinian view?

The Palestinians, however, see Obamas relations with Israel differently. Though Obama pressured Israel, they were disappointed because he let up on demands for a halt in settlement activity. …

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