Tuesday, October 28, 2014

U.S. Anger At Israel 'Red Hot', Bennett: U.S. Planning To Throw Israel 'Under The Wheels Of The Bus'

U.S. Anger At Netanyahu Said 'Red-Hot' As Ties Hit New Low

American anger at the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “red hot” and the relationship between Israel and the US is now in a “full-blown crisis,” The Atlantic reported Tuesday.

The piece, by Jeffrey Goldberg, observed the extraordinarily harsh tone now used in increasingly regular and open fashion by Obama administration officials in reference to Jerusalem leaders, chiefly among them Netanyahu. One senior administration official was quoted by the publication as calling the Israeli prime minister “a chickenshit,” referring to what he saw as the premier’s pandering to his political base for fear of electoral defeat, his refusal to make any diplomatic headway with the Palestinians and moderate Arab states, and his fear of initiating wars.

US officials increasingly see the Israeli leader as acting out of a “near-pathological desire for career-preservation” and not much more, the article claimed.

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the senior official said, referring to the prime minister’s ongoing — but so far unrealized — threats to strike Iran to stop its nuclear program. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat.

“He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

Diplomatic rhetoric has heated up in recent days as the US used strong terms to condemn Netanyahu’s Monday approval for a thousand new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Israel’s continued building across the Green Line was “incompatible with their stated desire to live in a peaceful society.”

But Netanyahu rebuffed the criticism from American, European and Palestinian leaders.

“We have built in Jerusalem, we are building in Jerusalem and we will continue to build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “I have heard a claim that our construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant. It is the criticism which is making peace more distant.”

But while Netanyahu’s “recalcitrance” has long frustrated Washington, Goldberg wrote, it is his apparent contempt and open derision for American leaders that has sparked fury there. According to the piece, Netanyahu has told several sources that he has “written off” the Obama administration and, should the US finalize a deal with Iran that is not to Israel’s liking, will bypass the White House and speak directly to Congress and the American public against such a deal.

Goldberg observed that the relationship between Obama, Netanyahu and their respective cabinets was “the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections,” at which point, the piece claimed, the Obama administration may remove its gloves and stop protecting Israel at the UN. While Washington is likely to continue opposing any unilateral Palestinian statehood bid, it may help draft an anti-settlement resolution, the article suggested, which would be catastrophic for Israel’s international standing.

Riffing on Netanyahu’s statements that US strong criticism of East Jerusalem construction was “disconnected from reality,” Goldberg asserted that, on the verge of a third Palestinian uprising and facing increasing international isolation in its defiance of world opinion, it is “the Netanyahu government that appears to be disconnected from reality.” He also called the Israeli right’s message of “the whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel” disastrous for Israel’s standing as a US ally.

On the issue of Iran and the possibility of a preventative Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities, another US official quoted in the article said it was now too late for Israel to take action and Washington no longer believed it would attempt to do so.
““It’s too late for [Netanyahu] to do anything,” the official said. “Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett responded to reports that officials at the White House refer to Prime Minister Netanyahu as "chickenshit" and said, "Israel is stronger than all of its assailants. Netanyahu is not a private person, but the leader of the Jewish country.

Serious curses such as these towards the prime minister of Israel are hurtful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews around the world."

Bennett added, "If what was written is true, the current government is planning to throw Israel under the wheels of the bus. I call for the US government to renounce these provocative insults and reject them out hand."

Officials in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed criticism of American officials and said that "Netanyahu will continue to meet the security interests of Israel's citizens and the rights of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. No pressure will change that."

Is Washington taking off the gloves when it comes to Israel? Amid the latest tensions in U.S.-Israel relations, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic on Tuesday quoted unnamed officials in Washington who launched a verbal tirade against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickens**t,” the senior Obama administration official told Goldberg, who referred to Netanyahu as “the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most.”

“Over the years, Obama administration officials have describedNetanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery,’” wrote Goldberg, who is considered close to President Barack Obama.

“But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a ‘chickens**t.’ I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency,” wrote Goldberg.

Another official quoted by Goldberg said that Netanyahu is also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat.

The official said the Obama administration no longer believes thatNetanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal.

“The feeling now is that Bibi’s bluffing [on Iraq],” this second official said. “He’s not Begin at Osirak,” the official added, referring to the successful 1981 Israeli Air Force raid ordered by the ex-prime minister on Iraq’s nuclear reactor.

The latest crisis in Israel-U.S. relations revolves around Netanyahu’sgiving instructions for the building of about 660 homes in Ramat Shlomo, in northern Jerusalem, and about 400 more in Har Homa, in the capital's southern section. All of the tenders had been slated for construction from as far back as 2010.

On Monday night, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to the move by saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.

Netanyahu fired back on Tuesday, declaring that Israel would continueto build Jewish homes in Jerusalem.
"I heard an argument that the construction of Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem distances [the Middle East from] peace," Netanyahu added. "It is this criticism which distances peace."
"These statements are detached from reality, they are harboring false statements made by the Palestinians."

This is not the first time, however, that tensions between Israeli and American officials have publicly surfaced. Just last week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was snubbed by the Obama administration during a visit to Washington, and was denied meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

This was likely done due to Ya’alon’s comments from several months ago,when he was quoted as having described Kerry as "obsessive and messianic."

In a more recent incident, Kerry blamed Israel for the rise in global jihadism, insisting that Israel "humiliated" the Palestinian Arabs and that it has led to a "loss of dignity," leading to a recruitment draw toward ISIS. 

In response, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett fired back at Kerry, saying, "Even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, there will always be those who blame the Jews.”

"We don't justify terror; we fight terror," he added. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict statement encourages ISIS, and is a boost to terrorism worldwide."

Earlier this month, Netanyahu said that the criticism of Israel's plans to build in Jerusalem was “baffling. It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” Netanyahu said. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.”

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