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Report: White House 'Concerned' About Bennett

The White House is closely following the Israeli elections and is "concerned" over the growing strength of the Jewish Home.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/16/2013, 2:12 AM

Barack Obama
Barack Obama
AFP photo

The White House is closely following the elections in Israel, Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday. Obama's remarks, as quoted by Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, show that he is also attempting to interfere with them.

According to the report, the U.S. is particularly concerned over the growing strength of the proudly nationalist Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) in the polls and over the fact that there is hardly talk about negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as part of the election campaign.

The U.S. is concerned, according to Channel 10, that Bennett's strengthening will cause Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in turn, to strengthen the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The report comes on the heels of the harsh criticism by President Barack Obama at Netanyahu, as reported by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.

According to Goldberg, Obama said repeatedly recently that Israel does not know what its own best interests are.

When informed about the Israeli decision to approve construction plans in the E1 area, "Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry," wrote Goldberg. "He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.

According to Goldberg, Obama "has become convinced that Netanyahu is so captive to the settler lobby, and so uninterested in making anything more than the slightest conciliatory gesture toward Palestinian moderates, that an investment of presidential interest in the peace process wouldn’t be a wise use of his time."

In response to the criticism, sources close to Netanyahu said Tuesday that the Prime Minister would remain solid in his policies, especially regarding Israel's determination not to return to the 1948 armistice lines, despite the comments by Obama.

A senior Likud official told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that Netanyahu has indicated in private conversations he would prefer to form a coalition Lapid and Livni and that he "fears a strong Bennett", because his party will make it difficult for him to make diplomatic moves. This, however, is possibly a planted rumor, say other Likud sources, which, perversely, gives Bennett more support as most Israelis, polls show, do not want Israel to make concessions to the PA.