US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit:REUTERS)


There is “zero chance of an actual rapprochement” between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, vice president for communications at JStreet Alan Elsner told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“These two leaders do not trust each other and are not strong enough or brave enough to actually move forward,” he explained, “The best we can expect from them is to avert the worst, and even that is not certain.”

According to Elsner, even though a distinction should be made between Netanyahu and Obama’s relationship and the US-Israel relationship more broadly, the “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the United States, which the prime minister mentioned in his UN speech, could begin to erode if the occupation continues.

Elsner told the Post that indefinitely occupying Palestinian territories and building settlements may put cracks in the common values that hold the relationship between the two countries together.

“These common values are democracy, freedom , ethical behavior, respect for minorities, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and treatment of women for example,” Elsner said, “To the extend that Israel lives up to those values, the relationship will remain very healthy.”

The subject of the Iran nuclear deal has created an unprecedented rift between the United States and Israel over the past year, but after stressing once again Israel’s opposition to the agreement, Netanyahu told American journalists last week that he is ready to turn the page and repair the relationship with President Obama.

“I do think that Netanyahu has done tremendous damage to the relationship, not because he doesn’t like Obama but because he turned Israel into a partisan issue when it was always a bipartisan issue,” Elsner told the Post.

“By siding so blatantly with the Republicans and acting quite frankly as if he were a Republican, he has politicized the issue,” he added.

According to Elsner, the disagreements between the two has helped some pro-Israel democrats realize that “they can be pro-Israel without walking lockstep with the Israeli government, without supporting the occupation, without supporting the settlements.

“I think that’s a healthy development because it enables Americans who love Israel and want the best for Israel to disassociate their love for Israel from a kind of blind loyalty to the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he told the Post.

Elsner added that he expects to see more disagreements and political rifts between Obama and Netanyahu throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post