Jeffrey Goldberg writing in The Atlantic, The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here:

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.

This has been a long-time coming.

Obama and John Kerry have a vision that makes the Palestinians the center of the Middle East universe even though everything on the ground from North Africa to Yemen to Syria to Iraq says otherwise.

Because of the view, Obama on down in the administration desire peace at any cost, even if it is at best a temporary peace that redivides Jerusalem and puts Hamas within mortar range of the Tel Aviv suburbs, and turns the West Bank into an Iranian base of operations.

Elaborating further, Goldberg writes:

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat.

I don’t think there is a crisis in U.S.-Israel relations, but one in Obama-Israel relations.

Goldberg assesses that “[b]y next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.”

That’s something I have been anticipating for years — it’s the hammer Obama has over Israel’s head to abandon Israel to the U.N. wolves. It would be more damaging to Israel than withholding weapons or military aid.

Mahmoud Abbas must sense the same thing, as he’s said that early next year he will seek a U.N. Security Council resolution forcing a full Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 Armistice lines (often called the pre-1967 lines). Maybe Mahmoud knows something the rest of us don’t; perhaps that same Senior Obama Official has been whispering in his ear.

The American people and virtually all of Congress know who is right here, and it’s not Obama-Kerry-Rice.

Whatever else he is, Bibi is not chickenshit.