Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bet on Mitt Romney, and lost. There are two reasons why Benjamin Netanyahu bet on the victory of Mitt Romney: first, because he fully identifies with the reactionary program of the Republican candidate and, second, in line with his neo-conservative friends, he considered the first election of Barack Obama as a regretful accident in American history and could not imagine that such an accident would happen twice.
Will Netanyahu have to pay for his bad bet?
On the basis on these two assumptions, he bet all his assets – in reality our assets! – on Mitt Romney, and did not even hesitate to enter the US elections’ arena and to openly support the Republican candidate. Such behavior was unprecedented in the history of the Israeli-US relationship.
Netanyahu, however, bet on the wrong horse, and Barack Obama will be his partner for the next four years.
When one bets on the wrong horse, he must usually pay for his mistake. The question is: will Israel have to pay for the wrong choice of its prime minister? The president has many good reasons to take revenge and to make the Israeli leaders sweat. Not only did Netanyahu ignore the requests of Obama to try and adapt Israeli policies to US interests, but he did not hesitate to humiliate him in public, as in his speech in the US Senate in which he described the Obama administration policy in the Middle East as based on a lack of understanding of the reality in the region. It is also doubtful that Obama has forgotten the Israeli government announcement of new settlement construction while his special envoy, former Senator George Mitchell, was still on his way to the airport.
Already in his famous Cairo speech, Obama worried the Israeli ruling elite… until they counter attacked and obliged him to withdraw his diplomatic initiative.
I guess that the results of the US presidential elections made Netanyahu and his staff sweat again, but should they be worried? The answer is, of course, in Obama's mind: does he consider the Middle East as central to US international policy? Is he ready to take into consideration the effects of the Arab Spring and the fall of Washington's main allies on US influence in the Arab region? And, on a more personal level, will Obama try to take revenge for past Israeli humiliations?
The next few months will provide us with answers, but past experiences have been extremely disappointing. In the meantime Netanyahu is sweating for the second time, and this is a good reason to be happy for few days.