Interview: Dov Zakheim blasts Netanyahu

Dov Zakheim, former Undersecretary of Defense in President George W. Bush’s administration, harshly criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for causing long-term damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship in a phone interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh. “Perhaps the longest-term damage that Netanyahu has done — and it’s true damage — is losing Israel’s status as a bipartisan issue in the U.S., Zakheim charged, joining prominent critics of Netanyahu’s latest political moves. 

“The next Israeli prime minister will have to begin repairing that, partly by reaching out to the Democrats and partly by at least working with the Palestinians, whereas now I think it’s impossible with Netanyahu,” Zakheim continued. “And not only is it impossible with Netanyahu, I think he’s jeopardizing the entire relationship that the U.S. and Israel have worked on with the Gulf and other Muslim countries. It’s going to be very, very difficult to convince the Gulf leaderships that they can work with a guy who’s willing to have on his team people who are ready to throw the Arabs into the desert. The Jews always say the Arabs want to throw them into the sea. Well, you now have people who want to throw the Arabs into the desert. It’s fraught with difficulties.” 

“I think the impression that people have already developed for some time and this move reinforces is that Bibi is not about Israel. Bibi is about Bibi. And given all the other issues that have already been there: the friction over the Palestinians, the friction over religious issues, this is just on top of them all. And I think, when it comes to AIPAC or the AJC or the other organizations that have spoken out, I think this simply was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Zakheim also predicts that if Benny Gantz wins the April 9th election and is tasked with forming a government, the attitude towards Israel among Democrats will change. “It’ll be much more difficult to go after Israel or be less sympathetic to Israel if there’s a prime minister who’s willing to try to do something with the Palestinians, who doesn’t say explosive things, and is not under investigation. Right now, it’s very easy for Democrats to bash Israel. They don’t feel as though Israel cares about them.”

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