Washington Looks On as Netanyahu Posts Strong Victory in Israel

NYT FDCarl Hulse March 18, 2015

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Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where March Madness is already starting to get political, and even St. Patrick’s Day could not bring President Obama a lucky budget from Republicans. The resignation of Representative Aaron Schock of Illinois is still the talk of the town, but Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin may have found himself a headache in Iowa. Yet for now, the biggest electoral drama is the result in Israel’s vote.

As Washington digested Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suprisingly strong victory on Tuesday in Israel’s elections, the consensus among Republicans and Democrats was that the strategic partnership between the United States and Israel remained intact despite lingering partisan tension over Mr. Netanyahu’s address to Congress.

Members of both parties said that ties between the two countries were too deep and too crucial to be disrupted by the blowup over the speech, and that the United States would stand alongside whatever new government was formed.

“U.S.-Israeli relations are very strong,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader who was a chief critic of Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. “It’s important to our own national security to support the security of Israel.”

At the White House, where there was no doubt some disappointment that Mr. Netanyahu did not get his comeuppance, the view was that the resentment over Mr. Netanyahu’s conduct would not influence future relations with Israel.

Republicans said their main objective remained preventing the Obama administration from striking a poor deal with Iran over its nuclear capability.

But they also rushed to celebrate their allegiance with Mr. Netanyahu, with some posting congratulatory tweets even as the results were still being tallied.

“Congrats to @netanyahu on victory in Israeli elections,” Representative Jeff Duncan, Republican of South Carolina, said in a tweet. “A true leader in a wilderness of turmoil.”