How to Reset U.S.-Israel Relations?

The Washington Post poses an excellent question in its editorial todayin which it ponders how best to “reset” relations between the United States and Israel. Though Democrats have spent the last year trying to pretend that all is well in the alliance, the distance that the Obama administration sought to put between the two nations from its first days in office has resulted in tension and an ongoing series of fights over settlements, Jerusalem, borders and how to deal with Iran. The president’s open dislike for Prime Minister Netanyahu while secondary to their policy disputes has also become a major impediment to amity.

While we don’t know who will be sitting in the Oval Office next year, there isn’t much doubt that the winner of the U.S. election will still have to deal with Netanyahu. That means both the president and Mitt Romney need to think how best to repair the damage that has been caused in the last four years. While many foreign policy experts scoff at Romney’s rhetoric about eliminating the “daylight” between the countries that Obama sought, he’s on the right track. Though the Post speculates (probably incorrectly) that Romney is as desirous of Netanyahu’s defeat in the Israeli elections scheduled for just after the U.S. inauguration festivities as Obama, the problem between the two countries is deeper than a personality conflict. It stems from a wrongheaded administration that continues to buy into the delusion that it understands Israel’s security needs and dilemmas better than the Israelis.

As much as many Americans desire Netanyahu’s defeat, that isn’t in the cards. The prime minister was already an overwhelming favorite to be re-elected but the odds of unseating him got a little slimmer today when Israeli prosecutors announced they would appeal former PM Ehud Olmert’s acquittals on corruption charges. Olmert got off with only one ethics conviction that brought no jail time and hoped to mount a political comeback by crafting an unlikely coalition of all of Netanyahu’s rivals. It would never have worked but with the threat of more trials (including one corruption charge on which he has yet to face a jury), the chances that Olmert can pull it off have gone from miniscule to virtually non-existent....

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