Obama and Likud

Ed Lasky
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced his intention to step down from leadership of Israel, and polls show that Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu may emerge as the next Prime Minister of Israel. Barack Obama has made clear his attitude toward Likud:

"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel".

Haartez columnist Shmuel Rosner openly wondered if a President Obama would be supportive of an Israel governed by Likud. Rosner notes:

...the fact that Obama mentions a party by name -- singling it out as an example -- can be seen as more problematic. By doing so, he is basically telling both American and future Israeli voters this: If Israel elects Netanyahu and Americans elect Obama -- we might have a problem.

Publicly interfering in the internal elections of an allied nation is, as the English might say, "bad form".  Of course there is also the uncomfortable irony of Barack Obama's willingness to meet with tyrants form all sorts of odious regimes but singling out Likud implies a problem between the US and Israel should he become President and Netanyahu Prime Minister.

Israel is beset with a range of threats -- some of them intertwined and complex (the Hezb'allah-Hamas-Iran axis, Iranian nuclear ambitions) which will require close cooperation in the years ahead with its strongest ally, America. Israel's freedom of movement and willingness to take risks is dependent on having a close working relationship with the President of the United States.

Will an Israel headed by a Likud leader have such a relationship with a man who has expressed his disdain for the Likud Party and who has already made clear that a smooth working relationship will be unlikely with a Likud-led Israel should be become President?

It is true that Obama and Netanyahu have met recently and cordially; they have also touched base regarding sanctions on Iran. Perhaps, Barack Obama may be moderating his views somewhat on the campaign trail.

Time may tell but there are reasons to have qualms when a potential President of the United States tips his hand regarding problems he would have with the leader of Israel.
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced his intention to step down from leadership of Israel, and polls show that Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu may emerge as the next Prime Minister of Israel. Barack Obama has made clear his attitude toward Likud:

"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel".

Haartez columnist Shmuel Rosner openly wondered if a President Obama would be supportive of an Israel governed by Likud. Rosner notes:

...the fact that Obama mentions a party by name -- singling it out as an example -- can be seen as more problematic. By doing so, he is basically telling both American and future Israeli voters this: If Israel elects Netanyahu and Americans elect Obama -- we might have a problem.

Publicly interfering in the internal elections of an allied nation is, as the English might say, "bad form".  Of course there is also the uncomfortable irony of Barack Obama's willingness to meet with tyrants form all sorts of odious regimes but singling out Likud implies a problem between the US and Israel should he become President and Netanyahu Prime Minister.

Israel is beset with a range of threats -- some of them intertwined and complex (the Hezb'allah-Hamas-Iran axis, Iranian nuclear ambitions) which will require close cooperation in the years ahead with its strongest ally, America. Israel's freedom of movement and willingness to take risks is dependent on having a close working relationship with the President of the United States.

Will an Israel headed by a Likud leader have such a relationship with a man who has expressed his disdain for the Likud Party and who has already made clear that a smooth working relationship will be unlikely with a Likud-led Israel should be become President?

It is true that Obama and Netanyahu have met recently and cordially; they have also touched base regarding sanctions on Iran. Perhaps, Barack Obama may be moderating his views somewhat on the campaign trail.

Time may tell but there are reasons to have qualms when a potential President of the United States tips his hand regarding problems he would have with the leader of Israel.