In March 2015, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to give a speech to congress at the invitation of House Speaker, John Boehner. However, no notice of this speech was given to the White House, which some feel is a slight towards the US President. Netanyahu is already considered by many to have a somewhat frosty relationship with Obama.
Benjamin Netanyahu, known informally as ‘Bibi’, was born in Israel, but lived and studied in the US for many years, in addition to fighting for the Israeli army. He belongs to the Likud political party, and he has been prime minister of Israel before—in the 90’s.
The Likud party is intensely dedicated to national security. They have, at times, been hesitant to move forward in peace talks because of ongoing distrust towards neighboring governments.
Although, Netanyahu opposes military conflict, in the interest of national security, Israel keeps its military primed for combat—particularly in areas like the West Bank, where there are Israeli settlements in what is supposed to be Palestinian occupied territory.
The US and Israel have been long-time allies and Netanyahu recently called their relationship “rock-solid”. However, it is these settlements that have been putting a strain on the personal friendship between Obama and Netanyahu. Obama made it clear in 2009, that “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”—which the UN has declared “illegal”, and a “flagrant” violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
However, Netanyahu continues to support them. In December 2014, hundreds of new homes were approved to be built in Israeli settlements along the West Bank and other areas.
Despite this, Israel still remains a valuable friend to the US. Both nations do not want to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, and both nations know they need to work together to stop it from happening. Because of Israel’s powerful government and sophisticated army, Netanyahu is ultimately a powerful ally for Obama to have.