Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Own Best Interests Are’


obama-netanyahuBy Jeffrey Goldberg

Immediately after the U.S. went to bat for Israel at the United Nations in late November, voting against a resolution that called for upgrading the status of the Palestinians (the resolution passed overwhelmingly), the government of the Israeli prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, turned around and announced, over U.S. objections, that it would begin planning a new settlement in a geographically sensitive area of the West Bank. It was a thumb in the eye of the Palestinian Authority, which proposed the U.N. resolution, and it was a bit of a slap at the U.S., which has consistently counseled Israel against settlement expansion.

In my Bloomberg View column this week, I describe Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu’s tactics:
When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry. 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.

In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.

And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah — one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend — it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.

The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. Next week, Israeli voters will probably return Netanyahu to power, this time at the head of a coalition even more intractably right-wing than the one he currently leads.


{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. No, the Likud doesn’t know what’s in Israel’s best interests. None of the major parties are working for the good of the country as a whole. They’re all out just for their own factionalist advantages. I’m tempted to go back for a visit around election time just to vote, but I wouldn’t know who to vote for.

    On second thought, I shouldn’t be able to do that anyway. If I don’t actually live there I have no right to have a say in the lives of the people who do, and run the daily risks I don’t.

  2. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. First let Obama fix his country, then maybe someone could listen to him how to run theirs.

  3. if Bibi doesn’t know what’s good for him then Obama definitely doesn’t know because he doesn;t even know what’s good for America. He’s leading the US down the Socialist/Communist path

  4. Its easy to respond to Obama by saying that hes doesnt know what his own interests are for America and to keep quite, but the reality is, he is right. it is pretty reasonable to delay the increasing of settlements just to be on better terms with other countries. The bottom line is, Bibi is isolating Israel

  5. #12, what you don’t realize is that delaying the increasing of “settlements” – and mind you, that means banning building in established places like Efrat, Kiryat Sefer, Beitar,etc. – has not proved to put us on any better terms with other countries. There was a 10-month ban under Bibi. Did it help? No.

    It is 100% in Israel’s strategic interest to build in the E-1 area, and THAT’s why the world is going berserk over some buildings in Yerushalayim and keeping quiet over tens of thousands of dead Syrians.

  6. Avi-the reality is that if this issue wasn’t there the Palis would find something else and the rest of the world would adopt that cause with the same result.