Update: Looks like Bibi Netanyahu will be selected to put together a government, but is not in as strong a position as expected just weeks ago. Carl in Jerusalem has all the details and live updates.
Carl also updates on something I touched on below, Breaking: US officials concede Obama interview with Goldberg meant to hurt Netanyahu in election.
The most recent polling indicated that while Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud coalition will win, and he will continue as Prime Minister, his coalition has been dropping.
I noted the other day that Obama’s statement directed at Netanyahu that Israelis didn’t know what’s in their own best interest appeared to be an attempt to interfere in Israel’s election.
That suspicion is somewhat confirmed by this report that Obama’s comment was payback for Netanyahu’s perceived support of Romney:
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the well-known [“senior American Jewish”] leader, who knows senior figures in both governments but is uninvolved in American party politics, said the relationship between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office has left him “scared about the nature of the relationship. They have to start pulling back.”
The relationship of the Obama White House and the Netanyahu PMO is widely believed to be a difficult one. After widely publicized disagreements on the peace process in recent years and Netanyahu’s public pressuring of Obama at the height of the US elections last year on Iran, Democrats have accused Netanyahu of campaigning against Obama in the 2012 elections.
A Bloomberg column by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg last week claimed Obama had told his senior staff that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are” — a dig at Israel’s announcement late last year it would build in the E1 area in the West Bank that separates Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim. The Israeli move followed the successful Palestinian bid for upgraded status at the UN in November.
The leak of Obama’s criticism “wasn’t an accident,” the American Jewish leader said. “That was payback.”