Speaking to Army Radio Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that he was “not worried” about recent media reports of tensions between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack H. Obama.
Earlier this week, an article in Atlantic magazine quoted Obama as slamming Israeli decisions to build in Judea and Samaria. “Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are,” Obama is quoted as saying by author Jeff Goldberg. “With each new settlement announcement, in Obama's view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation,” Goldberg writes. 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.”
“For Israel," Goldberg predicts, "the short-term consequences of Obama's frustrations are limited. The U.S. won’t cut off its aid to Israel, and Obama’s effort to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions will continue whether or not he’s fed up with Netanyahu. "But it is in terms of American diplomatic protection – among the Europeans and especially at the UN – that Israel may one day soon notice a significant shift."
Ayalon dismissed talk of a crisis in relations, saying that both sides had their legitimate points of view, and that Israel and the U.S. were solid allies. With that, he said, the White House expects Israel and the PA to “progress” on negotiations to at least a temporary arrangement in Judea and Samaria. For that to happen, he said, Netanyahu will will need a stable coalition, and if there was anything the U.S. wanted in next week's election, it was a strong government and a stable coalition.
Ayalon, who is now acting Foreign Minister following the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman from the post last month, said that he was still involved politically, even after being dropped from the Yisrael Beytenu list. He added that he did not know why Lieberman, head of the party, decided not to include him in the party's list for the upcoming elections.