Relations between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu have hit such rock-bottom levels that it does not really matter who is elected in 2016, relations are bound to improve, wrote former State Department official Aaron David Miller in his Wall Street Journal blog on Friday.
Miller noted that relations would likely improve both in “tone and style, and also possibly substance,” although Obama has persistently touted the line that his administration has been better for Israeli security than any previous administration.
Having worked in the State Department for more than two decades, Miller noted that he had never seen as “poisonous” a relationship develop between the leaders from both countries, although there were certainly points of contention between previous administrations and Israeli governments, such as president George H.W. Bush and former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (over housing loans withheld by the U.S.) and even Netanyahu during his first term in the 1990’s and president Bill Clinton.
“After nearly eight years of policy and personality differences between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu, there is little trust, little capacity to extend the benefit of the doubt, and little respect–in contrast to Mr. Clinton and [former Israeli prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin or George W. Bush and [former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon–let alone personal admiration and affection],” wrote Miller.
Still, obstacles exist on the road to improving relations again, as the U.S. and Israel have butted heads over issues such as Iran and negotiations with the Palestinians, which collapsed last year after a nine-month push by Secretary of State John Kerry without making significant headway.
Miller noted that if Hillary Clinton became president, relations would improve certainly in tone as the former secretary of state has carried amicable relations with several Israeli officials. Any of the 17 Republican candidates would certainly “normalize” relations as well, wrote Miller, especially as most GOP hopefuls shun the Obama administration’s nuclear deal and have shown little interest in the Palestinians, unlike Obama.