NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A diplomatic spat between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could prove costly.
It comes amid the presidential election where Jewish voters in some battleground states could be critical, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
The relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has often been frigid, but they may now have entered sub-zero territory. The president has outright refused to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader comes to the United States later this month for the United Nations General Assembly.
“The president should be meeting with everybody he can. Whether this is political or not, I don’t know,” New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said.
The very public snub comes as tensions are escalating over the possibility of Iran building a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu demanded the United States set clear “red lines” that Iran must not cross or face military intervention.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time,’ and I say wait for what? Wait until when? Those in the international community who refused to put red lines before Iran don’t have an oral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
For Obama, in the middle of a dead heat re-election campaign where opponent Mitt Romney is anxious to portray himself as a staunch supporter of Israel, there is a risk of alienating Jewish voters in battleground states like Nevada, Ohio and Florida.
“Clearly the Jewish community is going to be watching this very closely both from what President Obama’s doing and what Mitt Romney is talking about,” said Lee Miringoff of the Marist Institute.
However, Jewish leaders worry that just the appearance of a rift between the United States and Israel can be misinterpreted by Iran.
“Jerusalem and Washington need to be clear that they send a consistent message to Iran, a consistent message to Iran, which is you’re not going to get the bomb,” said David Harris of the American Jewish Committee.
Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents said the United States and Israel don’t have to follow the same line to have the same goal.
“Iran would make a big mistake if they miscalculate that they’re going to get away with continued obfuscation,” Hoenlein said. “The danger of a nuclear Iran that is so irresponsible, that is engaging in terrorism activities all over the world, is incomprehensible.”
And late Wednesday there was a new development. Reports surfaced that while President Obama has no time for Netanyahu he will do a late-night talk show while he’s in New York.
Sources told CBS 2’s Kramer it’s possible that if the two men are actually both here on the same day “free time might open up” for a meeting.
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