Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on two different occasions this year went to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough seeking a public commitment from President Barack Obama that he would veto any U.N. resolution calling for an independent Palestinian state.
Both times, Obama did nothing.
The requests from Reid came as he was trying to line up Democratic support for the Iran nuclear agreement. If Obama explicitly sided with Israel against the possible U.N. resolution, Reid’s thinking went, it would give nervous Democrats cover to back the Iran deal, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vocally protested.
The repeated requests by Reid and Obama’s unwillingness to make a statement on the issue — confirmed by White House officials and Senate aides — highlights how wide the gulf between the Obama administration and Israeli government has become. It unfolded in the context of a personal relationship between Obama and Netanyahu that’s become highly toxic, poisoning U.S.-Israeli relations more widely.