The Israeli prime minister and the GOP nominee are old friends. Netanyahu and Obama? Frenemies, at best
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a famously testy relationship, particularly when it comes to Obama's hesitance to back a potential Israeli attack on Iran, says Glenn Thrush at Politico. But both camps had informally agreed to keep any disagreements private — until Netanyahu slapped Obama over his Iran policy this week and let leak that Obama had declined to meet with the Israeli leader next week. (The White House denies a meeting was ever requested). Netanyahu's jabs at Obama, which may be intended to move the needle in a tight presidential election, haven't gone unnoticed, either here or in Israel. "Which regime is more important to overthrow — the one in Washington, or in Tehran?" Israeli opposition leader Shaul Mofaz pointedly asked Netanyahu on Wednesday, warning that "meddling in internal U.S. affairs" is dangerous. Is Netanyahu trying to throw the U.S. election to his longtime friend Mitt Romney — who Netanyahu worked with in Boston in the 1970s?
Yes. And Bibi needs to butt out: Netanyahu is making "an unprecedented attempt by a putative American ally to influence a U.S. presidential campaign," says Joe Klein at TIME. Such foreign meddling should be "intolerable for any patriotic American," as should Bibi's other goal: "Trying to shove us into a war of choice in a region where far too many Americans have already died needlessly." Real friends don't do that, and Romney needs to let his old pal know that "his interventions into our political process and policy-making are not welcome."
So what if he's meddling? "I don't believe Netanyahu is trying to influence the American election," says Carl Sherer at Israel Matzav, "and I don't think he could even if he wanted to." But if I'm wrong, and "Bibi's actions happen to throw the election into Romney's hands?" That's fair game. Americans have been meddling in Israeli politics since George H.W. Bush. "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
"Time's Joe Klein rips Netanyahu and Rivlin"
If anything, Netanyahu thinks the race is over: U.S. and Israeli politics are more intertwined than usual this year, but while Netanyahu might prefer dealing with a President Romney, a former top U.S. intelligence official tells Politico, he and his top advisers "are grimly accepting the reality Mitt won't win." Bibi is incredibly attuned to American politics, and he's vocally trying to get Obama to side with him on Iran now, because after the election, which he expects Obama to win, Bibi will have no leverage.
"Benjamin Netanyahu vs. Barack Obama"
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