Israel fell out of love with Barack Obama and it is now up to the US president to win back that trust. That was the word from Gil Hoffman, the chief political columnist of the Jerusalem Post at a Bicom-arranged event this morning. He visits London only days after John Kerry, the new US Secretary of State. Kerry, in a joint appearance with William Hague on Monday, stressed the importance of re-starting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It is clear that the White House will now press hard for a peace deal.
However, according to Hoffman, it is not likely that Obama’s planned trip to Israel next month, which will include a visit to the West Bank to meet Palestinian leaders, will result in any significant progress. There will be no front-page news, said Hoffman. If you have a newspaper, he advised, “then prepare page 13.”
Relations between the US and Israel are strained. Obama and Netanyahu have disagreed strongly on the subject of how to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme. Hawkish members of Netanyahu’s party have long advocated a military strike against Iran’s nuclear fuel enrichment facilities, much to the dismay of some in Israel’s own intelligence and military apparatus. But Hoffman suggests that Israel has never intended to strike Iran, giving out hawkish signals only to concentrate the attention of the international community on the growing threat posed by Tehran. If correct, it is uncertain what effect such brinkmanship would have on long-term relations between the US and Israel.