Likud Win Driving Obama to Go Softer on Iran?

Danielle Pletka of American Enterprise Institute thinks Bibi's win will make it easier for Obama to dismiss Israel's 'clamoring.'

Gil Ronen ,

Kerry and Iranian FM Mohammed Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva
Kerry and Iranian FM Mohammed Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva

Danielle Pletka, senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, believes that Likud's election victory will push US President Barack Obama to make even more concessions than he otherwise would have made, in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Obama “has made no secret of his antipathy toward Netanyahu, and many believe that Obama has allowed disagreements over policy to spill over into personal animosity,” wrote the neoconservative scholar. “And while the White House allowed it would work with whoever won the Israeli elections, it seems clear whom the President would have voted for had he been allowed to cast a ballot.”

Pletka noted that some people believe Obama will be more constrained in his negotiations with Iran, after Israeli voters endorsed Netanyahu, who vehemently opposes the US's soft approach to the talks. “But the stronger likelihood is that the Likud victory will spur the administration to even more concessions to ensure a deal between Tehran and Washington,” she added. “This is, after all, an administration that has written off the concerns of all of Iran's neighbors (and America's allies in the region) over a weak agreement that would likely do little more than pave the way toward a nuclear weapons capability for the ayatollahs.”

Pletka explained: “The reality is that where Obama might have been inclined to listen to the Israeli left (which differed little with the Likud over Iran), he will find it easy to dismiss the clamoring of the Israeli right, never mind that it represents the will of the people of Israel.”

Obama's actions and inactions regarding the Palestinians may also be affected, she surmised. After Netanyahu said he opposed a Palestinian state, it will be “tempting” to Obama “to just let the Palestinians have at Netanyahu, and the President will likely want to do just that.”

However, she notes, if unleashed to prosecute Israel by parties without legal standing – because "Palestine" is not, in fact, a state – ICC prosecutions of US officials will doubtless follow. “Until last week, Obama administration policy was to try to walk back the entire ICC mess,” Pletka opined. “It is in the best interests of the United States to continue that fight, but best interests are not always the prime mover behind Obama administration policies.”