Senior Israeli political officials are bracing for the results of the US presidential elections as many estimate that the elected president will affect the 2013 Knesset elections.
In light of Benjamin Netanyahu's
support for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the prime minister's associates fear that US President Barack Obama may take revenge against him if re-elected and support his political rivals.
Obama's aides accuse Netanyahu of blatantly intervening in the US election campaign. In the third and final debate
between Obama and Romney, the president teased the Republican candidate for visiting Israel in order to raise funds.
Romney, on his part, has promised to make Israel
his first destination as president if elected.
Obama in Ohio. Will he 'retaliate' against Netanyahu? (Photo: AFP)
State officials in Jerusalem estimate that Obama's anger at Netanyahu is so intense that the president, if re-elected, will try to indirectly – and perhaps even directly – sabotage the prime minister's election campaign.
The prime minister's aides fear that Obama will publicly criticize Netanyahu's policy and embarrass him during the election campaign. In addition, the US president may stop automatically backing Israel in international forums over its policy in the territories.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said in a closed forum that she believes that the Israeli elections will create an opportunity to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Clinton also said that the Obama administration would become more involved in the Middle East conflict if re-elected for a second term.
Despite the pressure felt in the Prime Minister's Office, other senior officials believe that the good relationship between Israel and the US will not be affected by the tensions between Netanyahu and Obama.
According to the officials, Obama is a cold and calculated person who will do what is in his best interest, and so if he believes there is no chance to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians – he will not go out of his way to bring about a breakthrough.
According to all sources, Iran
will likely be the main issue on the agenda between Israel and the US after the elections in both countries. If re-elected, Obama is expected to continue resisting a one-sided Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Itamar Eichner is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent