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2 Jun, 2010 00:13

What’s next for the US-Israel relationship?

The Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla has many wondering how US President Barack Obama will respond and what this will mean for the future of the US-Israeli relationship.

Following the Gaza flotilla attack, the US is coming under increasing pressure to condemn Israel's assault on the humanitarian aid convoy. The mild response from the US has some allies wondering why the Obama administration has reserved condemning Israel over the operation. After months of increased tension, public disagreements over settlement expansion and stalled peace talks, the relationship between the two countries could be in crisis mode.

Before Israel's deadly attack on the Gaza flotilla, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to meet  with Obama this week for what some had called a make-up session.

"It's clear that the Israeli government is worried about its relationship with the US and with Obama and they are doing their best to get as much face time," said Michael Bear of NonViolence International.

Zein El-Amine of the Coalition for Justice and Accountability said: "I think they need to get on the same wavelength as far as PR."

For months, the rocky relationship has been on a very public roller coaster ride. First, Obama appointed Hannah Rosenthal to be his anti-Semitism czar. Rosenthal previously worked for J Street, a well known peace lobby in Washington, DC advocating dialogue with Hamas and lifting the Gaza siege. Then, top White House officials from US Vice President Joe Biden to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made strong statement about Israel's expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian lands.

"It was insulting," Clinton said in March.

Although the latest incident has drawn condemnation across the board from allies and adversaries alike, some analysts predict nothing will change between the US and Israel.

"The Obama administration is producing this rhetoric, this empty rhetoric. There really has been no change between the Bush policy with Israel and the Obama policy with Israel," said El Amine.

Upon hearing of the Gaza flotilla attack, Netanyahu rushed back to Israel leaving the Obama administration waiting to reschedule the delayed meeting. In the meantime, outrage boiled into the streets of the Washington and Obama remains in a tight spot, between backing Israel or joining the international front demanding action on Gaza.