United States-Israel relations worsen

March 26th, 2015



The rift between President Barack Obama and newly reelected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has grown considerably in the past couple of weeks following a controversial interview.


The recent uproar began when Netanyahu, who, on the last day of his campaign for reelection, urged all far-right Israelis to mobilize and vote so the leftist and the Arab voters would not secure a victory for the opposition. Netanyahu’s announcement was shocking, due to his newly conceived rhetoric and renunciation of a two-state solution with regard to Palestine.


The prime minister stated as long as he was in office, there would not be a bilateral agreement with Palestine on a two-state compromise, according to The Guardian. His announcement was a direct retraction of his long-standing promise to cooperate with the Palestinians, and has enraged leaders all across the world, especially Obama.


The White House has been up in arms ever since Netanyahu made these remarks. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told The New York Times, “The divergent comments of the prime minister legitimately call into question his commitment to this policy principle and his lack of commitment to what has been the foundation of our policy-making in the region.”


Although his radical comments helped him secure the victory in an exceptionally tight election, Netanyahu has since tried to rescind his repeal of a two-state solution. In an interview with MSNBC, the Israeli prime minister asserted that he had not changed his policy regarding Palestine, and stressed the importance of an intimate U.S.-Israeli partnership.


Nonetheless, this incident might have been the last straw in the Obama-Netanyahu relationship. Many speculate that the United States may look to separate itself from Israel in certain international arenas, particularly in the United Nations. Since Israel’s formation as a nation, the United States has unwaveringly vetoed any legislation that strategically harms Israel or recognizes Palestine as a sovereign, legitimate state.


Now, however, the U.S. may be open to more Palestinian-friendly and neutral resolutions concerning Jerusalem and border disputes, or may simply choose to abstain from voting on matters regarding the Israeli-Palestinian affair, CNN reported.


Despite the threats of a revoked American support in the United Nations, The New York Times reports that US military aid to Israel – which amounts to more than $3 billion annually – will not be affected or reduced by the recent events.


The divisions created by Netanyahu’s extreme rhetoric were not limited to world leaders. Tensions and rifts have grown between members of the global Jewish diaspora, particularly in the United States.


Netanyahu’s statements appalled several American Jews. Israeli foreign policy is becoming increasingly unpopular among the younger generations of Jewish Americans, and many speculate that Netanyahu will only further this trend.


Aaron Voldman, a 27-year-old Wisconsin native who just returned from a year in Israel, told The New York Times, “[A two-state solution] is the only viable option to secure peace in the Holy Land – how could he, in good conscience, just write it off?”


Older generations of Jewish Americans are afraid that continued Israeli aggression could cast an even greater rift than the one younger generations are already feeling with Israel. Israel, too, is concerned over this phenomenon, as Jewish-American lobbies play a major political role in guaranteeing Israel’s continued supply of military aid.


Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, The Guardian and CNN was used in this report.