The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname. – Jeffrey Goldberg
LET’S FACE it, there has never been any love lost between Barack and Bibi, but this latest quote from Jeffrey Goldberg tears the skin off the bone.
More from Goldberg’s must read piece:
The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.
I’m sincerely not trying to throw stones at Secretary Kerry, whom I’ve worked for in Patriot Project, interviewed, and for whom I have deep respect, but he’s not Hillary Clinton, the only person in the Administration that can come close to handling Benjamin Netanyahu. I use “handling” delicately here, because she can scream at him with the best of them, according to many blind sourced reporting, then move on to cocktails without missing a beat.
Another manifestation of his chicken-shittedness, in the view of Obama administration officials, is his near-pathological desire for career-preservation.
Netanyahu’s government has in recent days gone out of its way to a) let the world know that it will quicken the pace of apartment-building in disputed areas of East Jerusalem; and b) let everyone know of its contempt for the Obama administration and its understanding of the Middle East. Settlement expansion, and the insertion of right-wing Jewish settlers into Arab areas of East Jerusalem, are clear signals by Netanyahu to his political base, in advance of possible elections next year, that he is still with them, despite his rhetorical commitment to a two-state solution. The public criticism of Obama policies is simultaneously heartfelt, and also designed to mobilize the base.
I’ve read a lot of articles over the last 20 years on the Middle East, but this latest from Jeffrey Goldberg is
close to epic.