senior politicians on Wednesday rushed to congratulate US President Barack Obama on his re-election.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
who was criticized by the American Democratic Party for allegedly intervening in the US election campaign in favor of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, congratulated Obama in a short statement, noting that "the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States is stronger than ever."
Netanyahu vowed to "continue working with President Obama in order to safeguard the interests crucial for the security of Israel's citizens."
Despite the congratulations on Netanyahu's part, Knesset members from the prime minister's Likud
party expressed their disappointment over Obama's victory, expressing their hope that Israel would now be pressured into making political concessions.
"Obama is not good for Israel and we're concerned that he will try to pressure Israel into making concessions because of his chilly relationship with Netanyahu," said a Likud lawmaker.
Likud MKs disappointed with Obama re-election (Photo: AFP)
Another Knesset member, who had expressed his support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, noted that the Israeli prime minister would have no choice but to come to terms with Obama's re-election.
"In the end we will have to work with him, and that's what will happen. In spite of the disappointment over this re-election, I believe that Netanyahu and Obama will eventually work together."
MK Danny Danon expressed his disappointment as well, saying that Obama cannot be trusted. "The State of Israel will not surrender to Obama. We have no one to rely on but ourselves," he argued.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
issued a short statement as well, saying that "together with President Obama we will continue nurturing and preserving the great friendship between the countries and people, based on shared values, and will continue working together with the US to strengthen the State of Israel and maintain its vital strategic interests."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, chairman of the Shas
party, was the first minister to admit that Obama's re-election did not benefit Netanyahu. "This is probably not a very good morning for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," Yishai said during a local authority spokespersons' conference in Eilat.
Asked whether Israel was wrong to intervene in the US elections, he responded: "I don't know if Israel interfered in the elections or not, but in general we should not interfere in elections taking place in another country."
Likud's favored candidate loses. Mitt Romney (Photo: AFP)
Former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni
wrote on her Facebook page that she congratulates Obama, "who moved America once again. The US has put its future in Obama's hands, and that means a lot as far as we are concerned as well. Israel's security is based on the strategic relations between Israel and the US, which are also built on the trust between leaders that is missing today. Self-examination and deep reparation are required."
Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich
sent a letter to Obama, noting that "your victory reflects the achievements of your first term. I have a lot of appreciation for your efforts to change the American society and for the agenda and values you promote, which match my worldview as well – equality, a decent economy and the state's responsibility for its citizens."
The Labor leader went on to say, "I wish you success in your efforts to promote processes of peace and freedom around the world. We in Israel expect to continue the special relationship between Israel and America, which are real friends and allies. We hope your global leadership will create a better and safer future for in our region and in the entire world."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
congratulated Obama as well, saying "I have no doubt that the Obama administration will pursue a policy based supporting Israel's security and an effort to deal with the challenges faced by our entire region, while working to advance the peace process.
"I believe that based on our traditional deep friendship and on the backdrop of our experience with President Obama, we will be able to overcome any differences of opinion."
Opposition Chairman Shaul Mofaz
said that "our shared challenges are huge, as is the level of cooperation required. I am convinced that President Obama and the American people will stand by Israel as a true friend which shares the same values and goals.
"The US is a real friend of Israel and we must tighten these relations and strengthen our cooperation."
Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party reacted to Obama's victory by calling on the American president to "fulfill his explicit promise to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear abilities and to work to immediately resume the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The deadlocked Mideast peace process puts the region's stability at risk."
At the same time, Yesh Atid called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to "take immediate measures to fix his shaky relationship with the administration in Washington. During the US election campaign, the prime minister acted and spoke in a way seen as a gross intervention in favor of the Republican candidate... Fixing the damage caused due to his irresponsible behavior is Israel's top interest."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon joined the congratulations, saying that "Obama will be an excellent president for Israel in the second round."
Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said in response that "another four years of this impressive leader are a source of hope for the entire democratic and human rights-seeking world. Obama won't let any Israeli leader ignore the need for a peace agreement.
"The Left won in America and the Left will win in Israel if the public votes for a party that does not sit in Bibi and Lieberman's peace-refusing government."
MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima) said that "Bibi got us in trouble with Obama. Israel has never had a prime minister meddle so grossly in the American election campaign. Israel is stronger than any prime minister, but this is another huge mistake made by Netanyahu and I hope Israel won't pay the price."
MK Isaac Herzog (Labor) told Ynet in its special election broadcast Wednesday morning, "Now that Obama has been elected, it's clear that Netanyahu will have a problem that cannot be covered.
"Although America as a world power acts on the basis of interests rather than personal instincts and anger, there will not be an intimate and close relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, which could be crucial at fatal moments. The administration has been furious with Netanyahu in the past few months. The Israeli public must understand that."
Mk Ofir Akunis, head of the Likud's PR team, said in response that "the Left's intimidation campaign has been launched. As always, their narrow political considerations overcome national considerations. The strategic alliance between Israel and the US is stronger than ever, much stronger than a collection of used election slogans."
Moran Azulay, Itamar Eichner and Yuval Karni contributed to this report