Obama and Netanyahu in Tight Spot on Iran

Analysis: Both Leaders Walk on Political Tightrope

All Smiles: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, shown here during a meeting last spring, are both facing tricky domestic political and diplomatic situations.
getty images
All Smiles: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, shown here during a meeting last spring, are both facing tricky domestic political and diplomatic situations.

By Reuters

Published September 12, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Current and former members of the Israeli national security apparatus have publicly argued against an Israeli strike for now and a former chief of the Israel Defense Forces, Dan Halutz, rejected Netanyahu’s call for red lines.

“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk. Don’t put red lines,” Halutz told a Washington think tank.

Haim Malka, deputy director and senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the rift comes at a moment when Netanyahu appears to be losing public support in Israel for a unilateral strike against Iran.

Speaking before the White House issued its statement, Malka said it was not surprising that Obama might not be eager for a meeting.

“Netanyahu used strong language that questioned not just the strategic judgment of the administration but its moral judgment in approaching the Iranian nuclear issue,” he said.

“It’s hard to imagine that the administration would set up a meeting between the president and Netanyahu after such a strong verbal attack,” he added.

However, it is also conceivable the White House might judge it politic to arrange a meeting, if only to quell the impression of a rift and reduce the odds of it becoming an issue ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Accused by Republicans of showing weak support for Israel, Democrats last week resurrected language in their party platform declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel after Obama objected to its having been dropped from the document.

Negotiations between Iran and six major powers to find a diplomatic solution have gone nowhere and it is conceivable that U.S. and Israeli tensions may rise, particularly as Israel sees its window for a unilateral strike closing.

Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, said the United States could find itself in a more difficult position if Israel abandoned any thought of a strike on Iran.

“I think what would be worse for American-Israeli relations is if the Israelis say to the Americans: ‘OK, we’re not going to strike Iran. We’re going to assume you’re going to take care of this problem,’” he said.

“Then we get into a situation sometime next year when the Israelis think the Iranians are on the brink of having nuclear weapons and the Americans haven’t done anything. That’s going to be a really big crisis,” he said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.