Chris McGreal in the Guardian says that Obama slam-dunked Netanyahu this week, and that the world applauds it, even Israel. By doing so, Obama has gained time, McGreal says.
In his speech to Aipac, Obama took aim at Israel for “too much loose talk of war”.
The Jewish state’s more ardent supporters in the west, ever ready to play down differences between the White House and the Israeli leadership, tried to deny Obama’s comments were aimed at Netanyahu’s government. But the president’s warning that such talk was driving up oil prices and so helping fund Iran’s nuclear programme suggested he wasn’t talking about the armchair generals in the Republican party but the real ones in Jerusalem.
Levy argues that Obama’s stand will strengthen the hand of influential voices inside Israel, such as the former heads of Israel’s intelligence service, Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy, who are opposed to an attack on Iran in the near future.
Dagan this week crossed Netanyahu by saying it is wrong to portray the Iranian government as irrational and that he trusts the US to make the call on whether or not to attack.
“An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way,” he told CBS. “[Obama] said openly that the military option is on the table and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state and from my experience, I usually trust the president of the US.”
That view is shared by many Israelis. A poll by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week showed that 58% of the population opposes a strike on Iran without US backing.
There has also been strong criticism inside Israel of Netanyahu’s invoking of the Holocaust. The opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, called it “hysterical” and said that it scared Israelis and cast the Jewish state as weak.