Barack Obama is to deliver a blunt warning to Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the era of the blank US cheque is over.
The President will use a meeting with Mr Netanyahu in Washington on Monday to tell him that from now on Israel must earn its privileged relationship with America.
Mr Obama will make clear that he will not allow his foreign policy objectives to be dictated by the Jewish state's interests, and that its leaders must resume working for peace with the Palestinians. (Hallelujah, can I get a witness!!!)
The President has already fired warning shots across the bows of the Israeli government to signal that he will not be pushed around by Mr Netanyahu's newly elected right-wing coalition. Many within Israel's government are openly hostile to two key aspects of American policy on the Middle East: statehood for the Palestinians and engagement with Iran.
Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, said: "Netanyahu is caught between a rock and a hard place, the rock being the president's determination to achieve a two-state solution and the hard place being his political base which opposes it. (Perhaps Israel should not have created this monster, now it will have to deal with the Zionist right wing population it has created, Ooooops, plan backfired)
Mr Netanyahu's political survival may depend on him sticking to his position. Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister whose right-wing party is essential to the survival of the Likud-led coalition, is forthrightly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state
But Mr Obama's hand in confronting Mr Netanyahu was strengthened last week by a new Zogby poll revealing that voters who backed him in the election overwhelmingly support a policy which amounts to "get tough with Israel" - ending illegal Israeli settlements within Palestinian territory and establishing a Palestinian state. Jewish voters, 78 per cent of whom voted for Mr Obama, are among the strongest supporters of the plan.
Mr Obama has already shocked Israeli officials by publicly declaring that a two state solution was in America's national interest - a clear sign that Washington will no longer automatically leap to support Israel regardless of the impact on the US.
The Obama administration has also broken a long-standing taboo against discussing Israel's nuclear weapons, by calling for Israel to declare and give up its weapons arsenal, said to number around 50 warheads. A senior State Department official said the US wants Israel to sign the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and commit to disarmament. What he has not done yet, is query the $3 billion in military aid which US taxpayers send Israel every year, although that could yet happen given the straitened times>(Yes, take the money away, hit them in the wallet!!!)
Mr Obama also sent his CIA chief, Leon Panetta, on a discreet mission to Israel two weeks ago to warn Mr Netanyahu not to lose patience over Iran's progress to nuclear weapons - and above all, not to launch preemptive air strikes against suspected nuclear enrichment facilities.
Mr Panetta's message to the Israeli prime minister was that Iran would not be a serious threat even if it develops a nuclear weapon. With the outcome of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq still in doubt, the US has neither the stomach nor the manpower to take on another major conflict which Israel will not be able to fight on its own.
1 day ago