Obama’s agenda, Israel’s ambitions often at odds

Israel has a unique set of security threats and national ambitions that have fostered policies inconsistent with Obama’s broader agenda, including his push to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and repair U.S. relations with the Islamic world. That has forced him to carve out exceptions for Israel that undermine the consistency he seeks in dealing with allies and antagonists alike.Those differences have also made it hard for Obama to speak unequivocally in support of Israel during difficult times. Asked by CNN’s Larry King on Thursday if it were “premature then to condemn Israel,” Obama said, “I think that we need to know what all of the facts are.”

Israeli officials “look at the world quite differently from the way from this president does, and they are not willing to just fall in line because he is the president,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who advised Obama’s campaign and now teaches at Princeton University. “Israel and the United States are seeing the threat environment in the region — and the ways to deal with the threat environment — in increasingly different ways. And for the United States that means Israel is a problem, as an ally heading in a very different direction.”

“This administration faces two very difficult stances to reconcile,” said Robert Malley, a former Middle East adviser to Clinton. “You have Israel feeling that it stands apart because it faces challenges unlike anyone else. And you have an administration that wants to establish a rule-bound international order. The question is how effectively do they juggle the two, and the test of that will be whether they achieve their policy.”

via Obama’s agenda, Israel’s ambitions often at odds.


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