Now, as the clock ticks down on Israeli elections scheduled for March 2015, will the Obama administration play internal Israeli politics to try to tip the election against Netanyahu?
Obama’s relationship with Bibi is perhaps the most dysfunctional of any president-prime minister pair in the history of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Doubtless John Kerry, too, would like to see another Israeli leader with whom he could dance a real peace process.
Yet constraints against U.S. meddling abound. First, there’s the Republican-controlled Congress, which will be watching hawk-like for any such funny business. Second, there’s the absence of a clear and credible alternative to Bibi with whom the administration is close; and then there’s the matter of the lack of a big issue for such lobbying. The peace process is in a coma; and ISIS, Hamas, Assad, Hezbollah, and the Iranian mullahs make Israel look like the good guys. Finally, there’s Obama himself. He’s not Clinton. Does he really care? Do most Israelis trust him? Could he get away with a campaign that makes clear Bibi isn’t the right guy and candidate, but X is? I am betting on “no” to all three questions. Don’t even think about it, Mr. President.