US President Barack Obama on Monday called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to
congratulate him on "his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset
During the phone call, Obama told Netanyahu he looks forward to working
with the new government, and reiterated his commitment to the "deep and enduring
bonds" between Israel and the United States.
Obama also pledged to the
prime minister to "work closely with Israel" on their "shared agenda for peace
and security in the Middle East."
The phone call came almost a week after the prime minister won a narrow victory in the election on Tuesday, giving credence to reports that the two leaders had less than cordial relations.
Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk told the Israeli media on
Monday that while US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu do indeed have chemistry, at the moment it is "bad chemistry."
Speaking to Army Radio, Indyk called it a "mistake" for Obama
not to visit Jerusalem on his pre-election trip to Israel in 2008, and
that he erred in not visiting Jerusalem since. It is "very important"
that Israelis come to see Obama as "a man that is deeply
committed to Israel's security."
With regard to Obama's state of mind, Indyk said that he believes, "President Obama is
feeling quite frustrated because he rightly feels that he has done the
right thing by Israel, but Israel is not responsive."
suggested that once Netanyahu has formed his new government, he should
"reach out to President Obama and try to turn a new page." He added that
the "relations between the United States and Israel are more important
than the differences between the two leaders." Referring to these
tensions, which have been widely reported, Indyk said that the two heads
of state "need to overcome them."
Turning to the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process, in which he played a role during his
two stints as American envoy to Israel in the 1990s, Indyk said that,
unlike Netanyahu, he believes Israel does have a partner for peace in
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"There is a partner and
he's just up the road in Ramallah, his name is Abu Mazen [Abbas] and
he's committed to peace with Israel and to the two-state solution and to
preventing violence and terrorism." He said that Israel, "which holds
almost all the cards must find a way to deal with him." It is not enough
for the Israelis to put their "head in the sand... and say there is no
partner and therefore we don't have to worry about it anymore."
said that recent Israeli elections, in which social issues were a major
factor, showed "Israelis want a normal life," but warned that, "they
cannot have a normal life until they resolve the Palestinian problem."