Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on his election victory on Wednesday morning, sending a statement which said, "The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever. I will continue to work with President Obama in order to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel."
Netanyahu met with U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro in Jerusalem Wednesday and conveyed his congratulations.
Appearing at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday, Ambassador Shapiro said Obama's relations with Netanyahu will not be affected by any personal disputes the two may have had during his first term, calling the re-elected president a "strategic thinker. "His policies are not governed by emotion,” he said. “Anyone who knows the president understands that this is not how he thinks.”
President Shimon Peres issued a statement congratulating Obama while visiting Moscow on Wednesday. "During his four years in office, the president contributed immensely to the security of Israel," read the statement. "I know he faces tough challenges ahead, chiefly among them is the Iranian threat, but I know that he is well aware of this and he will act as he said he would."
Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement congratulating President Obama for his win. "Together with President Obama we will continue to foster and nourish the great friendship the two nations and people enjoy, one that is based on shared values," read the statement. "We will continue to work with the U.S. to strengthen Israel and to preserve its vital strategic interests."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that in his second term, "Obama will be an excellent president for Israel, even if he will be busy with internal issues like the economy."
Ayalon suggested that Obama would most likely keep his Jewish White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, and that "Israel's great friends" Howard Berman or John Kerry may replace Hillary Clinton in the State Department.
Obama won't "take revenge on Israel" in the second term, Ayalon added. "He will focus on his legacy; mostly on internal issues, on foreign policy and especially on the Arab world. He understands that it will be hard for America to change things and to influence the tide. On Iran he may be more effective. It's not a bad thing if he goes into direct negotiations with Iran as long as it's not in the place of sanctions; they must go together. Prime Minister Netanyahu will support that and I support that. Our goal is to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Obama has the teams on the ground, he has international legitimacy against Iran, more than Romney would have had."
Regarding the accusations that Israeli politicians and their supporters abroad tried to influence the U.S. elections in Romney's favor, Ayalon said that "the Americans understand that politics is fair play and that elections are a different matter. This does not slide into diplomacy."
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said he did not foresee any change to Obama's positions on Israel in his second term.
"I don’t expect any change regarding Israel in Obama's second term. The two countries have intimate, strong relations, we have mutual interests — the resumption of the peace process immediately without preconditions; on the Iran issue where our differences have been reduced significantly recently, we work together to make sure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons."
Oren said that the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu "is completely fine."
"Obama said that he has met with Netanyahu more than any other world leader and spent more time talking on the phone with Netanyahu than any other world leader," Oren said.
Oren added that the status quo — a Democratic Senate majority and a Republican Congress Republican — remains in place. "The president will be the same president as in his first term but more experienced. He will be very active in the issues that concern Americans here: economy, healthcare, jobs. In foreign policy, he will be faced with Arab world instability and the Iranian nuclear threat."
"I am convinced that we can continue working excellently with President Barack Obama as we have been working with him all along. When there are disagreements we will stand our ground on our interests as anyone elected by the Israeli electorate should. There is no connection between the American and Israeli elections. The destiny of Israel will be determined by the Israelis themselves," Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar said Wednesday.
Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the Walla! news portal that "even if there are differences and tensions between a second term Obama and Netanyahu, the American Jewish community will know how to bridge the gaps."
The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying Defense Minister Ehud Barak congratulates President Barack Obama on his re-election. "There is no doubt that the Obama administration will continue to address Israel's security and help it deal with the challenges we all face in this region, as we move forward in the peace process. I believe that the long and deep friendship between the two countries and the joint experience in working with President Obama would make it possible to resolve what differences we may have between us," read the statement. "Defense Minister Barak sends his best wishes to Obama, and expresses his hope that he successfully meets the challenges ahead," the statement continued. Barak's press statement said the minister "extends his blessings to those elected to the Senate and the House of Representative and the American people for the exemplary democratic process they have put on display."
Labor Party Chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich, widely predicted to garner some 20 seats in the upcoming Israeli elections, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama Wednesday congratulating him on his re-election. The letter, released by Yachimovich's office, reads as follows: "Your victory reflects the accomplishments of your first term; I have immense respect for your efforts to see change in America and for the values and agenda you represent. I share that worldview, one that seeks equality, economic fairness and the responsibility the government has towards its citizens."
"I wish you all the best, as you try to promote peace and liberty around the world; we in Israel look forward for the opportunity to work together through our partnership, which has fostered a special relationship between Israel and America," Yachimovich wrote. "The two countries are true friends and allies. We harbor hope that your leadership on the world stage will create a better and safer future for our region and the world."
Not all reactions in Israel were favorable however. Chairman of the World Likud MK Danny Danon, who has been a skeptic of the two-state solution and a vocal critic of President Obama, was quick to react to President Obama's re-election, saying Israel should not feel compelled to fall in line with Washington just because of the outcome of the presidential race. "Israel must not cave in to Obama's demands; his re-election attests to the fact that the responsibility of furthering Israel's interests lies with Israel and Israel alone," said Danon in a statement released by his staff on Wednesday. "We cannot trust anyone but ourselves," he stressed. Reiterating his disapproval of Obama's handling of global affairs, Danon called on the leaders of the Republican Party, including Governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, to acknowledge "Obama has hurt the United States through his naive and wrongheaded foreign policy where the Arab world is more important than the West and Israel," Danon said. "It is my hope, and that of many Israelis, that the president resets his course relating to Israel and our region for the next four years," Danon said. "Rather than dictating ill-advised policies that endanger the well-being of America's only true ally in the Middle East, now is the time for President Obama to return to the wise and time-honored policy of 'zero daylight' between our respective nations."