Haaretz reports on the tensions between the administration and the Netanyahu government:
“We thought we’ve seen everything,” a senior American official said. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
That makes for a good anonymous quote, but does anyone really think that Netanyahu is likely to be made to pay a “price” for supporting new sanctions on Iran or for agreeing to speak to Congress in March? It’s true that Netanyahu has “spat” in the administration’s face on more than one occasion. What price has he paid for it? Israel continues to receive the same reflexive support at the U.N. that it has received for decades, there has been no reduction to U.S. aid and military assistance, nor has there even been a threat to reduce either one.
Apart from some angry quotes by anonymous officials from time to time, the head of a client government has been free to work at undermining U.S. policy in the region, he has ignored virtually everything that Washington has to say about the occupation and the settlements, and he seems not to have suffered for any of it in the least. So when another anonymous official engages in bluster about the “price” Netanyahu is going to pay for his latest slight, it is hard not to laugh. Thus far, the administration has been unable or unwilling to make Netanyahu pay any kind of price for his intransigent and obnoxious behavior, and there is no reason to think that anything will change in the next two years. Maybe if Israel and the U.S. are lucky enough, Netanyahu and his party will lose the elections in March and it will be a moot point, it is more likely that Netanyahu will remain in government and won’t pay any price at all.