Cracks in US-Israel ties widening: analysts

Cracks in US-Israel ties widening: analysts
Ties between the two countries have frayed under the administration of President Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON - A row over the new Palestinian government is driving yet another wedge into already shaky ties between Israel and the US as the once sacrosanct relationship comes under severe strain, analysts say.

Barely had the State Department said it would work with the new "interim technocratic government," just hours after it was sworn in Monday by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, when Israeli rage roared across from the Levant.

In what has become a predictable pattern of emotional and angry invective in recent weeks, the Israeli government said it was "deeply disappointed" by the US decision, which means aid will also keep flowing to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was feeling "betrayed and deceived," Israeli public radio said, as Secretary of State John Kerry had promised him Washington would not recognise the new Palestinian government right away.

Another Israeli official was quoted by the Israel Hayom freesheet as saying it was "like a knife in the back."

But one Israeli commentator writing in Haaretz daily suggested the Israeli cabinet had merely rushed into "a sophisticated trap" laid by Abbas in the hopes of driving Israel and the US further apart, and should have just waited to see what happened as Palestinian elections loom.

Ties between the two countries have frayed under the administration of President Barack Obama. He and Netanyahu have had a notably frosty personal rapport despite a fence-mending visit to Israel by the US president last year.

The collapse of the latest US bid to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians left Washington bloodied and frustrated, and even warier of wading back into the Middle East quagmire.

For their part, Israelis were deeply angered when media reports quoting an unnamed US official - widely believed to be chief US negotiator Martin Indyk - laid the blame for the failure of Kerry's peace quest squarely at Israel's door.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf sought to temper the angry reaction Tuesday, saying "the United States and Israel have a long, historic and unshakable friendship, period, over many, many decades, over many administrations, through a lot of difficult times."

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