The Guardian reports on the shifting views within the Obama administration on the United States relationship with Israel:
In recent months Barack Obama has said that resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a "vital national security interest of
the United States". His vice-president,
Joe Biden, has confronted Netanyahu in private and told the Israeli
leader that Israel's policies are endangering US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior figures in the
American military, including General David Petraeus who has commanded US
forces in both wars, have identified Israel's continued occupation of
Palestinian land as an obstacle to resolving those conflicts.
recently, Israel's assault on ships attempting to break the Gaza blockade has compromised relations with
Turkey, an important American strategic ally.
The typical power plays that exist in the current international political system have been warped in recent years by the rise of the fanatical neo-con movement. An irrational dedication to Israel's expansionist and violent policies in the Middle East have cost the United States dearly, particularly when it is fighting two wars with Muslim nations. Obama, while certainly constrained by AIPAC and other pro Israeli forces, is a realist and it is to be expected that he embark on a more nuanced policy with Israel.
Most of this will go on behind the scenes with Obama securing concessions from Netanyahu while maintaining the superficial 'best friends' image in public. It remains to be seen how tough Obama will get, but as US interests in the region are compromised over and over again by the fanatical right wing coalition government, he will have no choice but to force Israel's hand using the many levers of power at his disposal.
Israel can only follow its repressive policies with US money and US military support. Once that goes, Israel will find itself in an extremely unsafe position in a region will not show it much sympathy.
Obama's job then, is to save Israel from itself.