White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is planning to step down, reports say, indicating that he is likely to leave after the November midterm election.
Sources said Emanuel will leave over differences in style with other senior Obama administration staffers. Emanuel is frustrated by what he views as too much idealism among Obama's closest advisors, who are unwilling to “bang heads together” to get policy through.
On the other hand, Obama's advisors are frustrated with the difficulties the president has faced passing legislation, and perceive Emanuel as having failed in his duties, a consultant said. "Democrats may not have stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W. Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm's job,” he explained.
Emanuel's friends said he has been considering early resignation over the pressures of his job. Emanuel has three children, and is concerned that he is losing touch with his family due to the intensity of his work, they said.
Emanuel is known as a tough pragmatist, an attitude which has won him both praise and criticism. He has encouraged Obama to compromise, for example, on health care reform, while advisers such as David Alexrod have supported Obama in sticking to principle.
He is also known for his blunt manner of speaking. In late 2009, Emanuel told an Israeli diplomat that the US is "fed up" with Israel. Earlier this year, however, he told rabbis that the Obama administration had "screwed up the messaging" and failed to convey its support for Israel.
His attitude toward Israel has earned him critics in Israel and in the Jewish community. During a recent visit to Israel, Emanuel was followed by parliamentary aides Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir; Ben-Gvir called him an anti-Semite due to his support for Palestinian Authority demands. Emanuel has been a prime mover in the Obama administration in favor of freezing construction for Jews in Judea, Samaria, and much of Jerusalem, and ultimately, giving the PA land east of the 1949 armistice line.
Analysts suggested in 2009 that Emanuel's aggressive style had pushed Obama into an open confrontation with the Netanyahu government, alienating US Jews and Israelis.
Emanuel previously served as a senior advisor to then-President Bill Clinton. He was in Israel for the signing of the Arava peace treaty with Jordan, was active in the Oslo negotiations, and coordinated the famous Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn.
The chief of staff is the son of Jewish immigrants; his father Benjamin was born in Jerusalem and was a volunteer with the pre-state Etzel militia. Emanuel served as a civilian volunteer with the IDF during the Gulf War, and recently celebrated his son's bar mitzvah in Israel, near the Kotel (Western Wall).