How the President, Israel, and the Gulf states plan to fight Iran — and leave the Palestinians behind.
In response to the violence in Gaza, the Gulf states issued ritual denunciations and support for the Palestinians, but Israeli officials regarded the language as unmistakably bland, similar to their reactions to the Jerusalem decision. That their emphasis had shifted away from the Palestinians and to the specter of a confrontation with Iran was obvious.
On the afternoon of December 14, 2016, Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, rode from his Embassy to the White House to attend a Hanukkah party. The Obama Administration was in its final days, and among the guests were some of the President’s most ardent Jewish supporters, who were there to bid him farewell. But Dermer, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not share their sense of loss. For the Israeli leadership, the Trump Presidency could not come soon enough.
Netanyahu believed that Barack Obama had “no special feeling” for the Jewish state, as one of his aides once put it, and he resented Obama’s argument that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was a violation of basic human rights and an obstacle to security, not least for Israel itself. He also believed that Obama’s attempt to foster a kind of balance of power between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East was naïve, and that it underestimated the depth of Iran’s malign intentions throughout the region.
Obama was hardly anti-Israel. His Administration had provided the country with immense military and intelligence support. He had also protected Netanyahu in the United Nations Security Council, when, in 2011, he issued his only veto, blocking a resolution condemning Jewish settlement building. And Obama opposed efforts by the Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court, after Netanyahu shouted over the telephone to the President’s advisers that “this is a nuclear warhead aimed at my crotch!” (Netanyahu’s office disputes the American account of the call.)