Israel clings to uneasy friendship with US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to smooth over a breach in relations with the United States this week by speaking out against unnamed confidants who described Barack Obama as pro-Palestinian and Israel’s “greatest disaster”.

This followed Netanyahu’s fraught visit to Washington last week, where he held a long but low-key meeting with Obama that ended in sharp disagreement.

Israeli reports said the US was pressing Israel to freeze settlement construction in East Jerusalem and extend a temporary, partial curb on West Bank settlement building. But Netanyahu has shown no sign of bowing to pressure. A senior Cabinet minister was reported yesterday saying the US demands were unacceptable.

The Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, sparked Netanyahu’s anger by quoting an unnamed Netanyahu confidant saying Obama and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had “adopted a patently Palestinian line. We’re talking about something that is diseased and insane,” the source told the paper. “We have a problem with a very, very hostile administration. There’s never been anything like this before.

“This president wants to establish the Palestinian state and he wants to give them Jerusalem — You could say Obama is the greatest disaster for Israel.”


Netanyahu admitted to his Cabinet on Monday that “there are matters that we [he and Obama] have yet to agree on”. But he described the comments in the Yedioth as “anonymous, unworthy”.

“Relations between Israel and the US are those between allies and friends,” Netanyahu said.

In the US there was a similar effort to ease the rift. Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said the US had a “deep, abiding interest in Israel’s security”. Despite the low-key meeting with Netanyahu, which ended without a joint statement or customary photographed handshake, Axelrod told CNN: “There was no snub intended. This was a working meeting among friends.”

Washington spent much of last year trying to persuade Netanyahu to halt all settlement construction as a prelude to restarting peace talks with the Palestinians for the first time since Israel’s war in Gaza. But Netanyahu agreed only to a partial 10-month curb of settlement building.

The dispute erupted again earlier this month when Israeli officials approved 1 600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem during a visit by the US vice-president, Joe Biden. —

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Rory Mccarthy
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Egypt, Seychelles get first jabs

The two countries have rolled out China’s Sinopharm vaccine, but data issues are likely to keep some countries from doing the same

Fashion’s future is bricks and clicks

Lockdown forced reluctant South African clothing retail stores online: although foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores remains important in a mall culture like ours, the secret to success is innovation

What the Biden presidency may mean for Africa

The new US administration has an interest and much expertise in Africa. But given the scale of the priorities the administration faces, Africa must not expect to feature too prominently

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…