Israel under attack, Obama still hasn’t called Netanyahu [UPDATED]

Elliott Abrams points out that, alone among the leaders of Israel’s key Western allies, President Obama has failed to call Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to the rocket attacks launched by Hamas. Netanyahu has taken calls from French president Hollande, German chancellor Merkel, and British prime minister Cameron. But Obama has not seen fit to call the Israeli leader.

Abrams writes:

I am sure such a call will happen sooner or later, perhaps over the weekend. But the damage has been done: Israel is under attack, and the president of the United States cannot bring himself to call its prime minister.

Israelis are unlikely to forget this, nor should Americans. Our alliance system cannot function when we treat allies in this manner.

Once again, every vulnerable ally from Riyadh to Taipei to Seoul to Manila to Kiev will wonder how reliable an ally we are, at least under the present leadership we have.

I think our vulnerable allies are past the point of wondering. Their unflattering assessment of Obama surely is fixed by now

Had Obama called Netanyahu, it would probably have been to urge “restraint” by Israel in responding to the Hamas’ attack. When Obama finally gets around to making that call, Netanyahu should ignore any such urging. Israel’s level of restraint, characteristically high so far, should be based on its own assessments, not anything Obama might say.

The last war in Gaza ended after Obama and Egyptian president Morsi (nominally, at least) helped broker a cease fire. Morsi is now in jail I think, and Obama seems about as irrelevant as an American president can be.

If there’s to be a broker this time around, Hollande, Merkel, and/or Cameron seem to be the most likely candidates. Israel, after all, would want an “honest” one.

UPDATE: Obama finally called Netanyahu to express concern about possible escalation — in other words, to urge restraint. Obama also offered condolences on the recent murders of the three Jewish teenagers. I’d say he’s a bit late with that.

Finally, Obama said he is ready and willing to help facilitate an end to the violence and reinstitute a ceasefire. As I said, if Netanyahu wants a cease fire negotiated, he should turn to a more honest broker.

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