Shift in the middle: A view from Jerusalem

Barack Obama visited Israel in March to reassure Israelis—including their prime minister—that the United States backs Israel more than ever. In this effort he mostly had success, due to his personal charm, his sophisticated speeches and his insistence that he talk directly to the people rather than to the Knesset.

What was said behind closed doors remains unknown, but his attempt to bring Israel and Turkey together reminds us that Obama’s interests are, of course, first and foremost the security of the United States. He wanted two U.S. allies to be reconciled. The fact that the Turkish prime minister now demands huge financial compensation from Israel goes to show that America’s global strategies may be undermined by local feuds and egos.

Benjamin Netanyahu was able to announce a new government only days before Obama arrived. It is his third turn as prime minister, but he is less powerfully positioned than before.