Israeli PM’s own election promises could lead to review of US relationship
By Patrick Vaillancourt, Senior Columnist
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu left no stone unturned when seeking a fourth term as the leader of Israel’s government, appealing to the extreme right-wing voter groups that oppose sovereignty for Palestine. Netanyahu promised as much if re-elected, saying that he would never allow the so-called “two-state solution” to be realized.
On election night, he released a YouTube video meant to spread fear, saying that his leftist opponents were bringing in “busloads of Arabs to the polls.”
The racist comments, as well as the rewriting of Israeli foreign policy with respect to Palestine, have caught the attention of the United States at a time of heightened animosity between Netanyahu and US president Barack Obama.
Obama called Netanyahu to inform him that the US was considering a review of its relationship with Israel, including support for its issues in the United Nations as well as regular aid packages and weapons deals.
Such a review, if it ever came to fruition, could be disastrous for Israel and a massive victory for Palestinians, who seek to create their own sovereign country.
Despite their close relationship in years past, the Obama administration has grown increasingly frustrated with Netanyahu. Last month, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the US Congress, against the stern objections of the White House, and spoke about the dangers of any negotiated settlement between Obama and Iran on the Iranian nuclear issue.
An anonymous White House official familiar with the call spoke to the New York Times and said that Obama told Netanyahu that a review of the US-Israeli relationship would be necessary given Netanyahu’s pre-election opposition to the two-state framework, which most members of the UN support. If Obama were to effectively pull US support from Israel at the UN, that would allow for a vote on Palestinian sovereignty—which, if the US does not exercise their right to veto, would most certainly pass.
The situation could also be turbulent for Netanyahu personally, as Palestine has been trying to have war crimes charges brought against the Israeli leader in the International Criminal Court (ICC), an investigation which has been in a preliminary phase since January. The US has effectively protected Israeli leaders from the ICC, but a review of US-Israeli relations could lead to movement on this case at the Hague.
By all accounts, this is an extreme scenario that is not likely to take place. A review of the diplomatic relationship between the US and Israel does not in itself spell a concrete victory for Palestinians nor does it mean a US endorsement of a Palestinian state. If the White House is serious about pursuing a review, both America and the Middle East could stand to benefit from not leaving any diplomatic sanctions off the table with respect to Israel. In fact, it may even benefit the Americans in their fight against terrorism.