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'Netanyahu is perceived in White House as creator of bad blood between Washington and Jerusalem'
Photo: AFP
Orly Azoulay
Ingratitude in Jerusalem, loathing in Washington
Analysis: Damage caused by Netanyahu to Israel-US ties is irreversible at this stage. From now until end of Obama's term, relationship between two countries will shift to a state of maintenance.
WASHINGTON – The American administration has absolutely no interest in Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon. They know very well over there that he has a big mouth, but that he is not the navigator. He has very little influence on policies, and he mostly just operates according to the "commander's spirit."

  

 

Last week, they punished Ya'alon for his sins: For disregarding US President Barack Obama and claiming that he presented a weak international policy in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, and for calling Secretary of State John Kerry an "obsessive, messianic man" and praying for the day when he would get out of his sight.

 

The administration has a major score to settle with Ya'alon, but his public humiliation is a signal to the person above him – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The man perceived in the White House as the creator of the bad blood between Washington and Jerusalem, the man who associated with Obama's leading political rivals – the political and financial leaders of the Republican Party. They have also not forgotten how he supported Mitt Romney in broad daylight in a bid to remove Obama from the White House in the 2012 presidential election.

 

The most important component in Israel's security is its special and tight relationship with the United States. It's not just the $3 billion in security aid or the continuous deliveries of smart bombs and Iron Dome missiles and essential spare parts. Israel would not have been able to run its military wars without the generous assistance of the US and would not have survived its diplomatic battles without the American veto, which has been working overtime in the Obama administration in order to thwart bad decisions for Israel in international forums.

 

In the past, this special relationship led to the creation of "worms," which turned into a great "flame" that disrupted the Iranian nuclear program's computers. Over the years, in utmost secrecy, matters which had better not be discussed were finalized in two or three phone calls between Washington and Jerusalem, in favor of Israel and for the benefit of the good guys in the Middle Eastern neighborhood.

 

All this was became possible thanks to the special warmth, which nearly all Israeli prime ministers and defense ministers went to the trouble of maintaining with Washington. Israel's leaders realized that an intimate relationship is worth more than any quick delivery of smart bombs.

 

Netanyahu's era will be recorded as the days of ingratitude towards the American administration. Days of grumbling and mutual loathing.

 

Last week, the administration waited for Ya'alon to leave the US in order to leak to the media that they intentionally prevented him from meeting with high-ranking officials. They demonstrated to him that Washington knows how to show resentment towards a guest it does not wish to honor. They reminded him who's boss.

 

They did a similar thing with Netanyahu: A month ago, after his meeting with Obama, they held fire until the prime minister returned to Israel – and then let loose with both barrels. For the first time ever, the administration warned Israel that if it would not change its policy in the occupied territories, it would lose its closest allies.

 

Obama and Netanyahu. 'Never has Israeli foolishness become such a destructive factor in the relationship between the two countries' (Photo: AFP)
Obama and Netanyahu. 'Never has Israeli foolishness become such a destructive factor in the relationship between the two countries' (Photo: AFP)
 

The damage Netanyahu has caused to Israel-US ties is irreversible at this stage, although the necessary diplomatic courtesy will be maintained -  the military aid shipments will leave on time and the bank transfers will go ahead.

 

Netanyahu, despite his polished English, could never speak American. He got stuck in his days as a student in Boston, and failed to internalize the fact that there is a different America.

 

From now until the end of Obama's term, the relationship between the two countries will shift to a state of maintenance only, even if Ya'alon apologizes and explains that his words were taken out of context.

 

But Ya'alon is not the issue here. He is simply the person who turned the spotlight once against on the chaos Netanyahu has built vis-à-vis Washington, sans wisdom and with zero responsibility.

 

We have experienced crises with America in the past, but I can't remember a situation in which the Israeli foolishness became such a destructive factor in the relationship between the two countries.

 

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