A New Dawn For America and Israel?

Israel Bib Netanhayu

After eight tense years of strained US-Israeli relations in the Obama White House, it seems that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly elected President Donald Trump have rekindled the relationship. Both men have similar views regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and Netanyahu clearly wanted to send a strong message by being one of the first foreign leaders to visit the White House. Netanyahu, known as Bibi, is a shrewd politician, and is also meeting early with Trump in an attempt to shape the new administration’s policy on the Middle East. Trump already has a Middle East peace agreement on his “to do” list (which he wants his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kuschner to lead).
Netanyahu made one thing very clear. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday evening, he said that Israel and the United States have a “grand mission” to confront the threat of an Iran with nuclear weapons. Netanyahu told Hannity that America should not be fooled by Iran’s aggressive comments towards Israel. Bibi said that the comments are meant as a diversion to mask Iran’s true intentions. “They want to have [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that can reach your country [America]. That’s what they’re working on right now. Remember, you’re the Great Satan [to them],” Netanyahu said. “They believe that they’re destined to govern the world. Anybody that doesn’t agree with them, they’ll be able to subjugate or kill, and they’re working on the means to achieve that.”
Netanyahu described his meeting with Trump as “a meeting of the minds and a meeting of the hearts.” Both Netanyahu and Trump have been highly critical of the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal. “Since the signing of the deal,” Netanyahu said, “Iran has become more aggressive, more deadly, sponsoring more terrorism … with more money, a lot more money. They’ve killed Americans all over the place. They’ve sponsored terrorism against Americans all over the place. Now they’re going to build ICBMs that can reach the United States and have multiple warheads to do that? That’s horrible,” he added. “It’s dangerous for America, dangerous for Israel, dangerous for the Arabs. Everybody now understands it and there’s an American president who understands it and we’re talking about what to do about this common threat.”
While Iran was the primary focus of the meeting agenda, the two leaders also were said to have covered Syria and ISIS, and the prospect for Middle-East peace. Kushner appears to be preparing for the peace talks, and has already met with the United Arab Emirates ambassador and Jordan’s King Abdullah to see all sides of the conflict.
One thing is for sure. The Trump-Netanyahu relationship is much more cordial than the bitter relationship Netanyahu had with Obama. The two were miles apart on their world views, and speeches and rhetoric over the years furthered the divide.
Early in his presidency, Obama made a speech that was intended to repair damage that Obama felt Bush had caused, and strengthen US ties to the Muslim world. The problem is that Obama threw Israel under the bus in order to accomplish his goal. His speech was particularly harsh: “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s,” he said. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
The relationship continued to degrade, and culminated in the ultimate insult to Obama when Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress. The invitation came directly from Congress, and neither John Boehner, who invited Bibi, nor Bibi himself, informed the White House of the visit. Netanyahu was the second foreigner to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress; prior to that Sir Winston Churchill had addressed Congress three times. Bibi’s mission was clear, he was there to criticize the Iran nuclear deal.
In the end, Netanyahu’s speech did not prevent the deal. Obama launched it anyway. But it did help Netanyahuwin another term as Israel’s prime minister. Now Netanyahu’s political career is ongoing while his rival Obama’s political career has ended, and Bibi lives another day to work with a new president.