JERUSALEM – After surviving a close bid for his third term as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s narrow win signals the beginning of a new Cold War between Bibi and U.S. President Barack Obama.
After shifting his stance from right-wing to ultra right-wing in stating that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state and is firmly against a US-led peace deal with Iran nuclear talks, to say that the two leaders abhor each other is an understatement, and that the future of the SOCLOSE relationship between the U.S. and Israel depends on the relationship of two men who are equally stubborn, arrogant and determined to show the other, who is the proverbial alpha dog.
Shortly after Netanyahu’s victory, the White House firmly rebuked and chided Netanyahu in saying that they are “deeply concerned” about some of the “deeply divisive rhetoric” coming from both Netanyahu and the Likud Party. In what may be a sign of things to come, Obama would go on to state that he still believes in a two-state solution, which has already riled up the Republican religious right-wing/pro-Israel alliance here in the States.
This potentially dangerous political alliance of the Republicans to Israel could come back to bite them in 2016, if Democrats are able to successfully paint the GOP as a proxy for Israel’s interests above those of America’s. If Netanyahu’s speech before a Republican Congress are any indication of where the GOP’s true heart lies, it is with Bibi and Israel, and not that of the Constitution and the United States, to which all of them swore an oath to protect, defend and honor.
The GOP’s latest act of intransigence came courtesy of freshman Republican senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and 46 other senators who signed a letter and sent it to Iran, circumventing the executive branch in trying to undercut the on-going talks with Iran.
What does all of this mean for Obama? That once again, he must show that he is the smartest man in the room and play things cool, while waiting for the GOP to slip up. While Netanyahu may have pulled off a narrow win, it is nothing more than a faint blip in the greater sense of American politics—unless you’re a Republican, who feels he’s the second coming of Winston Churchill.
Bottom line is that both men, must find some common ground and work together–both politically and strategically–if they hope to achieve their objectives. This international tug-of-war between Barack and Bibi is like that of the two biggest and baddest kids on the playground, with both having something to gain and everything to lose.
As long as Obama continues to stay above the fray, Bibi’s new term means nothing. As long as he maintains his firm position on Iran nuclear talks and a future Palestinian nation, then Netanyahu will eventually have to come to the cold hard realization that he must cooperate with Obama–and eventually acquiescence to him on some of his campaign promises.
Just as Netanyahu as to deal with Obama, Obama must also deal with the equally-stubborn Bibi. Both are co-dependent equals, forever intertwined, currently locked in a international standoff of wills. Which is something that both the Middle East—and the world—cannot afford to see play out anymore.