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Obama victory spells trouble for Israel's Netanyahu
Published Wednesday 07/11/2012 (updated) 11/11/2012 10:48
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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly
cabinet meeting Nov. 4, 2012. (Reuters/Gali Tibbon/Pool)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces an even more awkward time with Washington and re-energized critics at home who accused him on Wednesday of backing the loser in the US presidential election.

With Iran topping his conservative agenda, Netanyahu will have to contend with a strengthened second-term Democratic president after four years of frosty dealings with Barack Obama and a rift over how to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

Facing his own re-election battle in January, polls give Netanyahu little chance of losing but perceptions that he has mishandled Israel's main ally have been seized on by opponents.

"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel's citizens," Netanyahu said in a short, congratulatory statement hailing what he called strong strategic relations with Washington.

But in remarks underscoring a rift with the United States over possible Israeli military action against Iran, Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 this week: "If there is no other way to stop Iran, Israel is ready to act."

Relations between Netanyahu and Obama hit a new low two months ago after the Israeli leader said nations which failed to set "red lines" for Iran -- which denies seeking atomic arms -- did not have the "moral right" to stop Israel from attacking.

Such comments, along with financial backing for Republican candidate Mitt Romney from a US casino magnate who is also one of Netanyahu's biggest supporters, were seized upon by critics as evidence the Israeli leader was trying to undermine Obama.

Netanyahu denied he was interfering in US politics.

But former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Sallai Meridor, suggested that Obama would not easily forget that Netanyahu had created a perception that Israel wanted Romney to defeat him.

Obama is "very strategic, very disciplined", Meridor said during a panel discussion on the US election at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"But I don't think we can just assume that what happened between them over past four years will have just evaporated," he said. "When people fight for their political life and have the perception that their partner is trying to undermine their chances, it's not going to disappear."

One of the Israeli prime minister's own leading coalition allies, Eli Yishai of the religious Shas party, said simply: "It's not a very good morning for Netanyahu."

Obama acknowledges supporters at a victory rally in Chicago. (Reuters)

For the Palestinians, Obama's win over Romney -- who offended them by suggesting during a visit to Israel in July that cultural differences accounted for the weakness of their economy compared with Israel's -- stirred little emotion.

President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement he hopes Obama "continues his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East". US-backed peace talks with Israel collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement building.

At the forum in Tel Aviv, Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, said it would be unrealistic to think Obama would choose to ignore the Palestinian issue in his second term.

"It always finds its way back onto the agenda. You can't expect this to go away or remain on the back-burner," he said, without offering a prediction of what Obama might do.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, unemployed Narmeen Taha, 37, voiced hope that freedom from re-election pressure might make Obama readier to take the Palestinians' side: "Maybe Obama, now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election, will exert more pressure on Israel than during his first term.

"But I also don't think we'll see a sudden turnaround."

Obama's victory could complicate Netanyahu's run in Israel's Jan. 22 national ballot, which opinion polls show he will win.

Former premier Ehud Olmert, who accuses Netanyahu of harming Israel's "most vital interests", was more likely to announce his candidacy now that Obama was returned to office, analysts said.

Olmert unsuccessfully pursued peace with the Palestinians before resigning in 2008 over corruption allegations. Should he run, Olmert is widely expected to seek to unite centrist and left-wing parties into a new bloc trumpeting slogans warning of four more years of acrimony between Netanyahu and Obama.

"Netanyahu bet on the wrong president and got us into hot water with Obama," the opposition Kadima party said on Facebook.

In his message to Obama, however, Netanyahu adopted a phrase used lately by the president's own supporters to describe strategic relations with Washington as "stronger than ever".
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1 ) Tibi / Tubas
07/11/2012 17:00
Obama's victory more "spells trouble" for Palestinians, since the USA is likely to continue promoting the stalmate, with continued financial support of the PA, that continues to refuse to Negotiate with Israel without preconditions,
rather that to force the PA to see a reality that they'll never accept, without drowning financially without continued international donations !!!

2 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
07/11/2012 17:24
President Obama's re-election doesn't change 1 damn parameter regarding our future relations with the Palestinians. Everyone in Israel wishes him the best as we would any Presidential victor. There's no "trouble," "damage control," big-time "fence-mending," "embarrassment," "humiliation," "soul-searching," etc. that Netanyahu needs to think about or do. Forget about that crap. We are always cognizant of our need to be self-reliant of our own destiny regardless of the U.S. or anyone else.

3 ) mohamed / somalia
07/11/2012 17:40
netanyahoo is evil. why the people like him are her in this world?

4 ) Ahmad / Palestine
07/11/2012 19:07
Maybe just maybe when Obama's lips heal from all the Zionist ass he has been kissing, maybe then he will do what he knows is right. Maybe, but not likely.

5 ) Yehuda Solomon Jr. / Antarctica
07/11/2012 20:52
Yehuda, I guess self-reliant Israel wont be attacking Iran anytime soon..HAHAHAHA

6 ) @ Ahmad-4 / USA
07/11/2012 21:00
"What Obama he knows is right" is to stop supporting governments,
that use rockets, mortars, bombs, and abductions for political gains,
and hopefully soon he will stop "kissing all the muslim terrorist's asses,
but not likely", so Pals will just wait forever for a state to be given to them,
rather than take the only route to real statehood - Negotiations !!!!


7 ) shirley / australia
07/11/2012 21:45
O)BAMA IS AN IMPEARALIST AND IRAN IS IN SCIENCE PROJECT WITH ISREAL WHY DOES MAAN NEWS KEEP PRINTING THIS GUTTER PROPAGANDA AND DISTORTION OF THE TRUTHHELPING US AND IRAN DIVIDE THE ME HE WILL JUST EXERT THE SAME PRESSURE FOR TALKS BECAUSE A PAL STATE DOES NOT SERVE HIS AGENDA AND ISREAL IS HAPPY ABOUT IT IN FACT BY KEEP PRINTING THIS GARBAGE MAAN NEWS IS ACTUALLY COLLABORATING AGAINST PALESTINIANSAND ARABS

8 ) ian / australia
08/11/2012 00:28
I agree with my brother mohamed (#3) also Ahmad (#4) ..."Maybe just maybe..." We can only hope.

9 ) southparkbear / usa
08/11/2012 15:59
nah, it cannot go down further so bibi has nothing to worry or waste time

10 ) Mel / USA
08/11/2012 16:24
Of course the BIGGEST overall"trouble"for all Israel & ALL global Jewry,& the Arab world,is political/ideological ZIONISM,sectarian fanatisism,& USG(waning)imperialism combined!Post-WW2 "exceptionalisms"are collapsing now,because they are criminal,DON'T WORK,&have failed catastrophically,politico-ideo-diplomatico-economically.And that has been the greatest 'trouble' to USA,Israel &Europe!It's so barbaric&corrupt!It's not enuf just to HOPE.The people are the BOSS.Politicians SERVE us!

11 ) Elisheva / USA
08/11/2012 22:37
America, educate yourself !
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