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Obama Administration Official Calls Netanyahu ‘Chickenshit’, Threat To Withdraw Cover At UN In Play

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama

According to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the US-Israeli relationship has entered a crisis period. The crisis is marked by distrust and disgust from both officials in the Obama Administration and Netanyahu government. One Obama Administration official reportedly characterized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” leader who is obsessed with staying in power at all costs.

Though few can seriously dispute that characterization of Netanyahu – particularly the latter part – those kinds of back room smacks were not previously so common in the US-Israeli relationship. The previously strong relationship has deteriorated considerably after Netanyahu and Obama clashed on Israeli’s belligerent policies –  particularly illegal settlement activity and a war of aggression known as Operation Protective Edge that predominantly killed Palestinian civilians.

Goldberg also claims there is a possibility that after the midterm elections next week President Obama may finally do what the world has been begging him to do and stop providing blanket cover for Israel at the UN. If that happens Israel may find itself facing sanctions over settlement activity and other illegal behavior.

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The showdown over Iran has already broken out in DC with Israel using its unofficial lobby, AIPAC, to attempt a rear guard action in Congress to kill the Iran deal. Like everyone else in DC, the Obama Administration knows that AIPAC is coordinating with the Israeli government to sabotage its plan to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

The Obama Administration official that talked to Goldberg also accused Netanyahu of trying to have it both ways on Iran – passing on a military strike years ago while complaining that Iran was a threat and the US wasn’t doing anything. Though the official also reportedly said Netanyahu being “chickenshit” has the benefit of keeping him from launching major wars.

With Israel’s recent announcement of new settlements and the world still reeling from Operation Protective Edge’s brutality, Netanyahu is picking an interesting time to press his luck by trying to stop the Iran deal. If Obama really does stop covering for Israel at the UN then Israel may ultimately end up being the nation with the sanctions problem.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Obama Administration Official Calls Netanyahu ‘Chickenshit’, Threat To Withdraw Cover At UN In Play

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama

According to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the US-Israeli relationship has entered a crisis period. The crisis is marked by distrust and disgust from both officials in the Obama Administration and Netanyahu government. One Obama Administration official reportedly characterized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” leader who is obsessed with staying in power at all costs.

Though few can seriously dispute that characterization of Netanyahu – particularly the latter part – those kinds of back room smacks were not previously so common in the US-Israeli relationship. The previously strong relationship has deteriorated considerably after Netanyahu and Obama clashed on Israeli’s belligerent policies –  particularly illegal settlement activity and a war of aggression known as Operation Protective Edge that predominantly killed Palestinian civilians.

Goldberg also claims there is a possibility that after the midterm elections next week President Obama may finally do what the world has been begging him to do and stop providing blanket cover for Israel at the UN. If that happens Israel may find itself facing sanctions over settlement activity and other illegal behavior.

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The showdown over Iran has already broken out in DC with Israel using its unofficial lobby, AIPAC, to attempt a rear guard action in Congress to kill the Iran deal. Like everyone else in DC, the Obama Administration knows that AIPAC is coordinating with the Israeli government to sabotage its plan to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

The Obama Administration official that talked to Goldberg also accused Netanyahu of trying to have it both ways on Iran – passing on a military strike years ago while complaining that Iran was a threat and the US wasn’t doing anything. Though the official also reportedly said Netanyahu being “chickenshit” has the benefit of keeping him from launching major wars.

With Israel’s recent announcement of new settlements and the world still reeling from Operation Protective Edge’s brutality, Netanyahu is picking an interesting time to press his luck by trying to stop the Iran deal. If Obama really does stop covering for Israel at the UN then Israel may ultimately end up being the nation with the sanctions problem.

Photo by White House under public domain.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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