When Obama made that assertion, Likud had been out of power for two years and Israel was being led by Kadima (whose leaders included Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Shimon Peres), a party that had been pursuing territorial compromise. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current Likud government will be challenged by an alliance between Livni and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog in elections net March. The Livni-Herzog tandem would seemingly fall more in line with Obama’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than Netanyahu currently does.
Then there is the Cuba move’s implications for the rest of the Middle East. In a column for his “Pressure Points” blog, Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies for the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security adviser for president George W. Bush, hinted that Obama’s Cuba rapprochement could indicate a willingness to partner with totalitarian Mideast regimes, perhaps at the expense of U.S.-Israel relations, for practical purposes.
“From Iran to Egypt to China, the Obama administration has shown itself largely indifferent to human rights in its efforts to ‘reach out’ to and ‘engage’ with regimes rather than with the peoples they oppress,” Abrams wrote. “This looks like another example. So, joy for Alan Gross and his family. But not for the people on the island from which he has been freed.”
Whether the Cuba move foreshadows a more aggressive Obama administration policy on Israel remains to be seen.