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Obama and Netanyahu’s rough start
What the first meeting between Obama and the Israeli leader tells us about the new U.S.-Israel relationship
 

The public words Monday between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were “warm and friendly,” said the New York Post in an editorial, but there were clear signs of “fundamental disagreement” underneath. Netanyahu refused to endorse Obama’s top priority—establishing a separate Palestinian state—and Obama blithely downplayed the threat of Iranian nukes, Netanyau’s main concern. The historically tightknit U.S.-Israeli relationship is “entering unchartered waters.”

Obama’s “tough love” approach to Israel might start a “new chapter” in the 60-year-old friendship, said Elise Labott in CNN, but “no one expects a drastic change.” And while some Israelis worry that the Obama team’s tougher stance jeopardizes the “special strategic relationship” between the two nations, this new “evenhandedness” could help win over Arab nations to Obama’s approach to Mideast peace.

Netanyahu has some cards to play, too, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal, and he might want to remind Obama of that. He is willing to bomb Iran, which would “mean big trouble for U.S. interests” in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Just as being thought of as "a little bit crazy" helped Richard Nixon, it might help Netanyahu get Obama to rethink his priorities.

 

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