How Israelis View U.S.-Israel Relations

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Some are calling the recent dispute between the U.S. and Israel over Israel's building in Jerusalem the worst diplomatic crisis in more than three decades. But how are Israelis feeling about the state of relations between the two countries?

The crisis began nearly one month ago during a visit from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden when a local planning board approved the construction of 1,600 more apartments in a Jerusalem neighborhood, a location Israel felt it had a legitimate right to build in.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement "insulting." Later in the month, the White House refused to allow the press to cover a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many in Israel and in the U.S. saw the incident as an unprecedented public snub to an Israeli leader. These actions and others by the Obama administration have many Israelis worried.

"On the one hand people I think people in Israel are very confident about the shared values, the shared heritage, the shared relationship and even the shared and common enemies that we face particularly after 9/11," said Ranann Gissen, former advisor to the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "But they're quite worried about the president. They're quite worried about the publicized expression and his background and they don't know because they were used to different kinds of presidents."

What the Polls Say

A recent poll showed an overwhelming majority of Israelis feel the Obama administration's attack on Israel for building in Jerusalem was "out of proportion." Seventy-five percent of Israelis felt the Obama administration overreacted, according to the IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis).

The recent crisis seems to reinforce the view many Israelis share about the Obama administration.

For example, another recent poll conducted by Smith Research showed just 9 percent of Israelis feel the Obama administration is pro-Israel.

Obama Targeting Iran -- or Israel?

Some suspect the Obama administration is more interested in regime change in Israel than in Iran. Gissen believes the crisis over building in Jerusalem obscures the real danger in the Middle East, a nuclear Iran.

"There's a critical question," Gissen said. "A strategic critical question and that is what's going to be on the agenda, Jerusalem which cannot be resolved right now or Iran. We've got to put Iran on the agenda and take Jerusalem off the agenda."

But whether the agenda will change remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Iran has issued a warning saying that if Israel launches an attack, the Iranians will strike back by launching missiles at Tel Aviv.

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