Ben Caspit
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion)
September 20, 2012 - 12:00am

It seems that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has begun to understand the extent of the breakdown in our future relationship with Washington. US President Barack Obama emerged this week as a clear front-runner in the polls. In the running for the electoral college delegates to be selected by each state to formally elect the president, his situation is even better.

It seems that only a miracle will save Mitt Romney and those who have pinned their hopes on his victory. This is the miracle that Binyamin Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson are praying for.

While Bibi seeks to persuade the Americans that he is not intervening in their election campaign and his only considerations are the rotating centrifuges in Qom, ridiculous and characteristic mishaps continue to occur on a daily basis.

A few days ago, as Netanyahu hopped from American network to network to explain in his impressive English how he was not involved in the battle between Romney and Obama, one of his former advisers, Prof. Israel Hanokoglu, published an “investigation” on his Internet site purportedly proving that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was forged, that he wasn’t actually born in America, and therefore he shouldn’t be the president of the United States.

The “investigation” was removed very quickly from the Internet site (apparently following heavy pressure from Netanyahu), but in the meantime it was picked up by many Republican websites in the US.

Then it was revealed that a group of Republicans working for the election of Romney in Florida, a critical battleground state, were using excerpts of Netanyahu’s speeches to persuade undecided voters to move from Obama to Romney. After this, Bibi would have to prove that he doesn’t have a sister, and her name isn’t Adelson! He wouldn’t be able to persuade Obama, that’s for sure.

In the wake of the enormous harm caused to the delicate but vital relations between Washington and Jerusalem, Netanyahu is slowly but surely trying to plan for the day after, assuming that a miracle doesn’t occur and Romney is sent home defeated on November 7.

Netanyahu’s people are well aware of what they can expect from the White House in a second term for Obama. They are fully aware of how much the American president has grown to despise everything that the Israeli prime minister represents.

They know that the rehabilitation work that lies ahead is hopeless, pretty much. It’s like standing on the spot that the Twin Towers stood, 15 minutes after they fell. Destruction, smoke and fire, complete silence.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu won’t have a choice. He will have to survive. It’s still not clear whether it is preferable for him to call elections as soon as possible – before Obama makes clear to the Israeli public that Bibi’s reelection would incur a costly price – or to put them off as much as possible, to allow the US president to chill out.

What is clear is that Netanyahu will have to pay a heavy price for his past actions. This is bad news for the Right, for settlers, and for anyone else who has forged ties with Romney.

I would not fall off my chair if Obama’s second term begins with a new freeze in settlement construction and a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians.

That is, if Mahmoud Abbas survives until then – he won’t, if it depends on Avigdor Liberman. This, by the way, is what Ehud Barak is counting on – the Israeli chameleon now wearing the colors of peace and reconciliation.

What Netanyahu will need more than anything after November is peace and reconciliation.

Barak’s premise is that if his Atzmaut (Independence) faction makes the 2-percent election threshold and if Netanyahu in any case wins the next election, the prime minister will have to establish a moderate centrist government, one that will talk about peace and not war, a government that will wink at America and represent a certain, albeit late, compensation for all its shenanigans in its first term of office.


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