It would be hard — perhaps impossible — to find someone who believes Benjamin Netanyahu is happy with the re-election of Barack Obama. Not only did the Israeli premier publicly butt heads with Obama over settlement expansion in the West Bank and the White House’s Iran policy, he has a three decade-long friendship with Mitt Romney and warmly embraced the GOP challenger when he made a campaign swing through Jerusalem this summer.
But with Romney defeated, Bibi’s rivals are hoping that his public spat with the U.S. president does him in. As the Kadima Party, the largest in Israel’s Knesset, wrote on its Facebook page: “Netanyahu bet on the wrong president and got us into hot water with Obama.”
Others are even more biting – witness the graphic to the left, a reference to the Israeli general elections scheduled for Jan. 22. (Hat tip: Michael Collins Dunn).
The U.S. and Israeli governments themselves, however, have done everything possible to play down the possibility of a public rift. Netanyahu tweeted a picture of the two leaders smiling happily together in the Oval Office, while Israeli spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote that “the strategic alliance between Israel and the US is stronger than ever.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, meanwhile, said that Obama doesn’t hold a grudge — “the president is a strategic thinker; his policies are not governed by emotion,” he assured Israelis.