Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rejection of President Obama's proposal for the Israel-Palentine border caused a major divide, posing clear risks for the public perception of both politicians. As The New York Times reports, even Obama's own chief Middle East adviser Dennis Ross argued that it was unwise for the U.S. to look as if it were publicly breaking with Israel.
But which politician, Netanyahu or Obama, has more to lose from this public break?
Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast argues that Obama will win the ensuing public relations battle. Calling Netanyahu's behavior at the press conference with Obama a "tantrum," he suggests that the Israeli Prime Minister has underestimated Obama's strength. "Obama’s a stronger president now on foreign affairs than he was in 2009, partly because of the bin Laden coup and partly because the speech was generally well received across the American political spectrum," he posits. Netanyaho might be welcomed by certain Republicans "who want to embarrass Obama by backing the prime minister. But the applause will only mask temporarily what everyone knows—that he is in total denial about the future." If anything, his "tantrum" may have hastened what Tomasky considers to be the inevitable. And Roger Cohen writes in a Times' editorial on Netanyahu, "I do know he will be judged a failure if he refuses, now, to make a good-faith effort to see if Israel’s security can be squared with Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza."