“The positions taken by the prime minister in the last days of the campaign have raised very significant substantive questions that go far beyond just optics,” a senior Obama administration official told Politico.
Netanyahu, whose party's big election win all but ensures his return to the Prime Minister's Office, declared the day before the election that a Palestinian state would not be formed under his watch, a reversal of his 2009 statement in support of such a state, and in contradiction with long-standing US policy.
“We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward,” warned the official.
The news site suggested that while the US would not cut back its financial and military support for Israel, it may become less supportive in international diplomatic forums.
“I do think the administration is going to look very closely at the possibility of either joining, or at least not blocking an internationally backed move at the UN to restate the parameters for ending the conflict,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the left-leaning pro-Israel lobby group J Street.
A decision not to block such a move would mean that an attempt by the Palestinians to pass a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel's presence in the West Bank might succeed in 2015. The Palestinians will also join the International Criminal Court on April 1 and hope to bring formal charges of war crimes against Israeli officials.
Shortly after exit polls were released Tuesday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that "we will go to the Hague Tribunal, we will accelerate, continue and intensify" diplomatic efforts.
Politico's source noted that Netanyahu recently admitted that he had once approved settlement construction with the intention of cutting Palestinian areas off from one another.
“To actually come out and say that this construction is actually driven by efforts to undermine a future Palestinian state is fairly dramatic,” said the source.
The news site quoted a former Obama official, who spoke more bluntly about Netanyahu, saying: "He’s shown his true colors.”
It further noted that the White House's new point person on the Middle East is Rob Malley, whose appointment drew fire from some Israeli-American groups because of his past contacts with Hamas.