TIME Israel

Israel’s New Government Promises Little Progress on Peace Talks and Unstable Rule

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 6, 2015, to announce reaching a coalition deal for forming a new government.
Gali Tibbon—AFP/Getty Images Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 6, 2015, to announce reaching a coalition deal for forming a new government.

Benjamin Netanyahu has created a government in which he is one of the most moderate members

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have managed to patch together a new coalition government 90 minutes before the deadline to present a ruling majority to the country’s President, but it is one that offers little hope for new peace talks with the Palestinians or stable government for Israel.

The resulting government commands only 61 out of the Israeli parliament’s 120 seats and is comprised of parties that are either reluctant or outright opposed to restarting peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. With few voices in the new government in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict, which is the desired outcome of the U.S. and most of the international community, Netanyahu is likely to continue to find himself on a collision course with the international community in general and the Obama Administration in particular.

The paper-thin majority Netanyahu sets out with in his fourth term as Prime Minister looks far from the “stable and broad-based government” he confidently asked voters to allow him to establish when he dissolved his coalition last December, deeming it ungovernable.

The parties in Israel’s new government are all right-wing or religious, with the exception of Kulanu (in English-All of Us), headed by Moshe Kahlon, who defines himself as centrist and brings with him pragmatists such as Michael Oren, Netanyahu’s former ambassador to Washington. Kahlon, however, is a former member of Netanyahu’s Likud party and does not appear to have moved significantly far from that party’s conservative positions on security and defense issues. It is only if Netanyahu’s government runs so afoul of the international community that it winds up hampering Kahlon’s economic agenda as Minister of Finance that the new government could be forced to be more moderate, says Professor Reuven Hazan, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“This is a government that is very cohesive ideologically on the security agenda. The hawkish parties would prefer not to give anything up and to build more settlements,” Hazan says. “Kahlon has a domestic economic agenda and he may be the most moderate in this cabinet. But he is a former Likudnik who is very comfortable with Netanyahu’s security agenda, and unless the world acts very harshly and it seems like it will affect Kahlon’s economic plan, such as with threats of boycotts, Kahlon is unlikely to interfere with Netanyahu’s stance.”

In a dramatic turn of events in the 48 hours before the deadline to form a government, Netanyahu’s one-time ally and now rival, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that he would not be joining the new government. Lieberman heads the hardline Israel Beitanu party, and allied himself with Netanyahu’s Likud in the 2013 election, resulting in Lieberman’s re-appointment as Foreign Minister. But Lieberman, who has a base of conservative voters who are immigrants from the former states of the Soviet Union, saw his support in the March 17 elections dwindle, giving him just six Knesset seats. Subsequently given short shrift in the coalition-building process, Lieberman decided to turn his back on Netanyahu and deprive him of six seats that would have allowed for a more comfortable governing majority.

Netanyahu was left having to give in to the demands of the last party with whom he needed to sign a coalition agreement, the Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett. That party’s main agenda includes expanding settlements, increasing the Jewish nature of the Israeli state, and upholding an uncompromising stance on Palestinian demands for statehood. During Israel’s war with Hamas last summer, Bennett was continually critical of Netanyahu for not hitting “hard enough” and publicly opposed Netanyahu’s decision to withdraw Israeli ground forces from the Gaza Strip, promoting instead a full re-occupation of the Palestinian territory that Israel left in 2005.

“Bennett was a relentless public critic of his own cabinet, demanding harsher action in Gaza, bemoaning the stewardship of the conflict,” Times of Israel editor David Horovitz notes in a column questioning the achievements of Netanyahu’s gambit to dissolve his last government with the intent of forming a stronger and more stable one.

In the final days of haggling over posts, Bennett took the education ministry for himself, and demanded that Ayelet Shaked, a 39-year-old politician who became a first-time legislator in 2013, be appointed Justice Minister.

“She replaces Tzipi Livni as Justice Minister, which puts her in charge of the ministerial committee for legislation, and that is the committee that has to approve every piece of legislation that comes through the Knesset,” Hazan explains. “This is a bottleneck. Laws in the Israeli parliament can only pass if the ministerial committee approves them, and this committee can block it. This committee is one that Netanyahu fought to get control of again, and with Shaked there he’s closer to doing that, but it gives her enormous power.”

Netanyahu has not appointed a new Foreign Minister, holding that portfolio for himself as he is permitted to do under Israeli law. Analysts believe this holds open the possibility that he can still convince Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Zionist Union, which includes the left-of-center Labor party, to join the government at a later point. Moshe Yaalon, who was Netanyahu’s last Defense Minister, will retain his position, making it likely that Israel’s position on local and regional defense issues — including for example Israel’s opposition to a potential Iran nuclear deal — will remain unchanged.

TIME celebrities

Natalie Portman Doesn’t Know Where Her Oscar Is

Natalie Portman arrives at the UCLA Younes Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies 5th Annual Gala held at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on May 5, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Breuel-Bild—ABB/picture-alliance/AP Natalie Portman arrives at the UCLA Younes Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies 5th Annual Gala held at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on May 5, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"It's a false idol"

Natalie Portman opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her feelings on Israel, her thoughts on being a Jew in post-Charlie Hebdo Paris and her directorial debut of Amos Oz’s memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, a film shot entirely in Hebrew (Portman was born in Israel). But in between all those very serious topics, Portman also revealed that she loves Broad City, even though she doesn’t have a television (she says she watches it on her computer). And she said she doesn’t know where she put the Oscar she won for 2010’s “Black Swan.”

You can read the full interview at The Hollywood Reporter, but here are some key takeaways:

On her Oscar: “I think it’s in the safe or something. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in a while. I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is lit­er­ally worshipping gold idols—if you worship it. That’s why it’s not displayed on the wall. It’s a false idol.”

On Netanyahu’s re-election: “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was reelected. I find his racist comments horrific.”

On whether she is nervous about being a Jew in Paris: “Yes, but I’d feel nervous being a black man in this country. I’d feel nervous being a Muslim in many places.”

On her marriage to dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied: “The disappointments are always in myself, and like, when you’re faced day to day with someone looking at you, it’s like a mirror that you have to yourself, and you can see your own good behavior and bad behavior. And it’s a beautiful challenge to be the best person in the mirror that you can be. I mean, I don’t beat myself up over it, but I’m not always as generous as I feel like I could be.”

TIME Israel

Why the Latest Protest Against Police Brutality Is Happening in Israel

Demonstrators confront Israeli policemen, during a demonstration of Ethiopian Jews at RABIN Square in Tel Aviv on May 3, 2015.
Omer Messinger—AP Protesters confront Israeli policemen during a demonstration of Ethiopian Jews in Tel Aviv on May 3, 2015

Scores are hurt in weekend protests in Tel Aviv as Ethiopian Israelis rally against what they say is long-running racism

Masses of protesters gathering in the streets, some throwing rocks and bottles at the police. In full riot gear, the police respond in force, shooting tear-gas canisters, percussion bombs and water guns. By the end of the evening, 46 injured people are sent to area hospitals.

Scenes of violent protest are something that people in Israel are used to seeing periodically, though it is usually in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time, though, the rage involves youth Israelis of Ethiopian descent who are angry at their own government.

Complaints of discrimination in all sectors of society — including housing, education and the workplace — are common from Ethiopian Israelis. But the issue of police brutality toward the group came to the forefront in the past week when a video surfaced last Thursday showing police beating a young Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in uniform. A protest against police brutality spilled over into violence in Jerusalem last Thursday night. Those protests continued over the weekend, and on Sunday evening, Rabin Square in the heart of Tel Aviv began to look like an intifada-era conflict zone.

What are Ethiopian-Israelis angry about? Since they began immigrating to Israel in the 1980s, Ethiopians have struggled to integrate into Israeli society. There are more than 135,00 Israelis of Ethiopian origin, according to the most recent figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Some came to escape famine and persecution, and all grew up on the idea of Israel as their ultimate homeland. By now, a new generation is Israeli-born, but they still face discrimination that, in the words of one activist, “is more latent than official.” In addition, some of Israel’s Orthodox rabbinical establishment question their Jewishness, which makes it difficult for them to get married in a country where civil marriage doesn’t exist.

But what touched off the current rage, so strikingly similar to the street protests over police brutality that have taken place over the past few months in the U.S., was a CCTV video. It captured an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier being thrown to the ground and beaten by two white policemen. In the video we see the policemen accost the soldier and push him, who then pushes back, and then the two men throw him to the ground and kick him.

“After being beaten up, after being violated again and again and being discriminated against, many Ethiopians wind up in jails,” says activist Fentahun Assefa-Dawit. He notes that 40% of minors in the Israeli correction system are of Ethiopian descent. “What’s different this time is the footage. And all the youngsters who might have been through this something like this, now they have proof that it occurs.”

Assefa-Dawit is the executive director of Tebeka–Advocacy for Equality and Justice for Ethiopian Israelis, an organization that receives more than 1,000 complaints of discrimination and abuse a year. It takes up the strongest cases of Ethiopians who have suffered discrimination, some of which have gone to Israel’s Supreme Court. But for young people outraged by what they’ve experienced, change is coming far too slowly.

“When an Ethiopian applies for a job, as qualified as he might be, as impressive as his CV might be, he is not going to be invited for the interview because he has an Ethiopian name,” Assefa-Dawit told journalists on Monday in a conference call before heading to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is conferring with Ethiopian community leaders in an effort to calm the outrage. “When a local rabbinate office refuses to register a couple who wants to get married because they’re Ethiopian, when you see a school that says we cannot take more children because they have a quota of how many Ethiopians they will enroll, you can imagine what the feeling of young people will be,” he says.

Shimon Solomon, who came to Israel from Ethiopia in 1980 at the age of 12, was a member of the Israeli parliament in the last government with the Yesh Atid party. He says that although he has repeatedly brought the issue of police brutality towards Ethiopians to the authorities for several years, nothing has been done.

“What we saw in the video is nothing compared to what goes on, in fact it was less shocking that what happens to people in our community at the hands of police,” Solomon tells TIME. “When we speak to people in their neighborhoods, we hear that it’s happening all the time, that the police allow themselves to act brutally and take people aside and beat them for no reason. We turned to the police and ask them to fix this situation, but it just continued like nothing happened.”

Solomon says that the protest on Sunday started with peaceful intentions, but a small group of “anarchists — some Ethiopian and some not” wanted to push things in a more radical direction. “We wanted an aggressive demonstration, not a violent one,” says Solomon. “The point of a protest is to bring attention to a situation, not to make the situation worse.” Solomon says he was disappointed that as the anger across the Ethiopian community grew, there was silence from Israel’s leaders. “It’s too bad that he didn’t come out immediately to decry the violence and hatred.”

Netanyahu met on Monday with Ethiopian leaders in an attempt to douse the flames amid reports that there would be further protests this week. The Prime Minister is moving closer to forming a government but has still not presented one since his re-election on March 17. On Monday he decried racism and violence, and arranged a meeting with Damas Pakedeh, the soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen.

“I was shocked by the pictures that I saw,” Netanyahu said in comments released by his office. “We cannot accept this and the police are dealing with it. We need to change things.”

TIME portfolio

These Teenagers Are Israel’s Future Soldiers

They learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation

In a country where military service is mandatory (three years for men and two for women) groups of young Israeli teenagers are increasingly joining advance-training programs to prepare – physically and mentally – for duty.

“In Israel, once you join the army, you become a grown-up,” says Oded Balilty, an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv. “One day, you’re a teenager, the next you’re a soldier with a gun. And so, some of them want to prepare themselves and feel more comfortable with the idea of being a soldier.”

For Israelis, conflict has become a fact of life — Israeli reservists can be called into active duty during times of crisis. “Yet, most kids will often only hear about it in the news; they don’t really live it,” says Balilty. “Of course, during wartime, they go down to shelters if necessary, but they mostly hear about it from their parents and friends around the dining table. Teenagers care about different stuff. They care about dating girls; they care about parties; they care about their iPhones and their iPads.”

For most of them, war only becomes a reality when they start their military service, and end up on the front lines.

Balilty spent six days following 400 students taking part in military combat fitness-training programs organized by Excellent Training, an independent company founded by Nir Cohen, a former Israeli paratrooper. Students meet three times a week, over a year, and are put through grueling exercises designed to strengthen them ahead of their military service. “For example, those who train to join the Navy are sent in the water when it’s cold weather,” says Balilty. “They go in and out, and at the same time the instructors are asking them questions about the history of Israel to see if they’re focused and if they are mentally stable. It’s very intense. [The instructors] want to simulate the tension and stress that soldiers are under in the military.”

The students also learn how to assemble an AK-47 assault rifle, and how to react in an urban, house-to-house fighting situation.

Excellent Training is just one of the many companies, founded by former members of the Israeli military, that have been offering these training programs in the last decade. “There are many others in each large city [in Israel],” says Balilty, who has followed several of these groups in recent months.

In the end, says Balilty, “these teenagers are definitely more ready than most of the teenagers that go straight into the army. I’ve seen 16 and 17-year-old kids that were really mature. Other kids tend to be more scared about joining the army. They can break mentally. So I think this [sort of training] is really helping them.”

Oded Balilty is an Associated Press photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Iran

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Iran Deal

We finally have a framework for a nuclear deal. Here's what that means.

After 18 months of drawn-out negotiations, the U.S. and its partners on Thursday arrived at an agreement on a framework for curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

If that sounds tentative, that’s because it is. The two sides have until June 30 to hash out the details of a final agreement. As President Barack Obama warned following the announcement of the latest progress, “there will be no deal” if Iran backtracks.

But the agreement sets the stage for a comprehensive deal that the U.S. and its allies believe could prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons in the near future, while providing relief to Iran’s limp economy. Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing talks:

What does the U.S. and its partners want?

The U.S. side consists of U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France and Russia as well as Germany (dubbed the P5+1). They are pressing for restrictions that will extend the amount of time it will take Iran to build a nuclear weapon — the so-called “breakout time” — from the current 2-3 months to a year. To do that, the P5+1 are pushing to reduce the number of centrifuges Tehran can use to enrich uranium into fuel for a nuclear weapon, as well as cut its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Meanwhile, the U.S. and its partners are demanding monitors to continuously inspect Iran’s nuclear program.

What does Iran want?

Iran is keen to see the removal of sanctions to ease pressure on its struggling economy and gain access to the international market. But it insists that it has the right to nuclear capabilities for energy and medical purposes and is unwilling to scrap its nuclear resources altogether.

So what does the framework agreement say?

According to the framework agreement, Iran agreed to cut by two-thirds its supply of centrifuges, from roughly 19,000 to about 6,000, and retain only its earliest generation centrifuges. It said it would keep continuing enrichment far below levels necessary for a nuclear weapon and also agreed to reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 97%.

But exactly how it plans to scrap its extra centrifuges and enriched uranium is the kind of question negotiators will be answering over the next three months. Finally, Tehran pledged to give the International Atomic Energy Agency access to all of its nuclear facilities and to its nuclear supply chain. “If Iran cheats, the world will know,” Obama said.

The U.S., the United Nations and the European Union will lift nuclear-related sanctions once Iran is deemed to have complied with its side of the bargain; American sanctions related to terrorism, human rights abuses and non-nuclear weapons will remain in place. Meanwhile, the U.S. will be poised to “snap-back” nuclear sanctions if Iran backpedals.

What do opponents of a deal say?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been a staunch critic of the negotiations, came out swinging after the framework agreement was reached. “The proposed agreement would constitute a real danger to the region and the world, and it would threaten the existence of Israel,” said Netanyahu, who was re-elected last month. An official close to his office went even further, saying the framework agreement “kowtows to Iranian dictates.”

Opponents say in part that a one-year breakout time is insufficient, giving the U.S. and its allies too little time to react if Iran does race to build a nuclear weapon. They also raise concerns that no matter what access Iran gives IAEA inspectors, they could still attempt to build a weapon without inspectors or U.S. intelligence finding out. “We are all concerned that the Iranians will circumvent the deal,” said Israeli politician Yair Lapid, a leading Netanyahu opponent who still says the deal is troubling to all Israelis.

In the U.S., Republicans, with some support from Democrats, have lined up a bill that will effectively require Congressional approval for a nuclear deal by giving legislators the power to reject lifting sanctions on Iran. The White House opposes the perceived interference from Congress and has said it would veto such a bill. “If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy, international unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen,” Obama said.

Other lawmakers appear willing to hear out the administration when the negotiators reconvene on April 13, albeit with a heavy dose of skepticism:

What do the Iranians Say?

In Iran, people took to the streets to celebrate news of the framework agreement. In a sign that the deal has the support of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Friday prayer leaders throughout the country praised the negotiations, calling the talks a success. President Hassan Rouhani, who has spearheaded the talks since he took office in 2013, was scheduled to speak Friday afternoon.

What happens now?

Now the hard work begins, as both sides determine the details and logistics of a deal. The White House will have to contend with a skeptical Congress that wants more of a say in the details of a final deal, as well as with potential schisms with its negotiating partners, which include rival Russia. Meanwhile, the talks will continue even as Iran engages in proxy and increasingly overt wars with U.S. Sunni allies in the region. There’s always the chance that the June 30 deadline will be extended, but as TIME’s Massimo Calabresi notes, “keeping Congress onside, the sanctions coalition together and the Iranians at the table may be impossible after the next deadline.”

TIME Israel

Israel Dismayed by Iran Nuclear Agreement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a statement to the media in Jerusalem on Apr. 1, 2015.
Debbie Hill—Reuters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a statement to the media in Jerusalem on Apr. 1, 2015.

The agreement unveiled Thursday was criticized by politicians and officials on right and left

A framework agreement on curbing Iran’s nuclear development program announced Thursday was met with concern and criticism across the political spectrum in Israel, with recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying it would “threaten the existence of Israel.”

Netanyahu, who has long criticized the negotiations between Israel and six world powers, said his cabinet was united in opposition to the outline deal. “The proposed agreement would constitute a real danger to the region and the world, and it would threaten the existence of Israel,” he said. Any deal, he added, must recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Earlier, an official close to Netanyahu’s office told reporters late Thursday that in the Prime Minister’s eyes, the framework agreement “kowtows to Iranian dictates” and that it “will not lead to a nuclear program for peaceful purposes, but rather to a military nuclear program.”

The official, who provided reaction in the form of an written statement, said the deal would allow Iran to continue progress toward a nuclear bomb unimpeded. “Iran will retain extensive nuclear capabilities. It will continue to enrich uranium, it will continue in is research and development of centrifuges, it will not close even one of its many nuclear facilities, the underground facility in Furdow, and much more.”

The official concluded that there was “no demand that Iran stop its aggression in the region, its terrorism around the world or its threats to destroy Israel, which it has repeated again over the past several days.” (That is a reference to comments made Tuesday by Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who said that “erasing Israel off the map” was “non-negotiable.”)

That reaction might have been expected of Netanytahu, whose stout opposition to the deal has helped cause a public rift between the U.S. and Israel. But even the Prime Minister’s opposition, which has been critical of his handling of the issue and his March 3 speech to Congress against the wishes of the Obama administration, said it was deeply concerned about the framework agreement.

Omer Bar-Lev, a leading member of Knesset of the left-wing Zionist Union, Netanyahu’s main opposition, said that Israel should work to convince Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the one-year period in which Iran, if the agreement collapses, could weaponize its nuclear capabilities – often referred as a “breakout time” – was not nearly enough to assuage Israel’s greatest fears. “If we can convince them to work on these small details, maybe we can get to a point where there will be an expansion of that time period, and perhaps we can get something that is less bad than what we’re seeing here,” Bar-Lev said in an interview with Israel’s Channel One.

Yair Lapid, the head of centrist party Yesh Atid, which was part of Netanyahu’s last government but refuses to join the coalition he is trying to form, says the deal troubles all Israelis. “On the Iranian nuclear issue there is no opposition and coalition. We are all concerned that the Iranians will circumvent the deal and Israel must protect its own security interests,” Lapid said in a statement to reporters. “There is no basis for the determination that today Iran was prevented from attaining a nuclear weapon. Israel needs to work with the United States and the international community to ensure there is no Iranian fraud, something which would threaten Israel’s security and that of the world.”

Dr. Ephraim Asculai, a former member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and an expert who served as a senior member of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission for over 40 years, says he is most troubled by the lack of scrutiny into his former group’s assessment that Iran was testing a nuclear explosive mechanism.

“That is a serious issue I haven’t heard a word about in any statement,” says Asculai, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Moreover, he said, he would have expected a more aggressive inspections regime, and for Iran to be left with far fewer centrifuges.

“This deal is not enough. It doesn’t give the right for inspectors to look anywhere in Iran at any time, and Iran is a huge country — it can set up a mechanism anywhere,” he told TIME. “Keeping 5,000 to 6,000 centrifuges is a large number.”

Finally, he said, one year of breakout time hardly reassures anyone in Israel, just a few hundred miles away from the Iranian border. “I think it is too short a period to deal with this problem, because by the time you discover it, it takes a long time to do something about it … I think that President Obama depends too much on intelligence to uncover any wrongdoing. Unfortunately, intelligence has been known to fail – and we know that Iran is very good at concealing what it’s up to.”

TIME Israel

The U.S. and Israel Are Divided — and That Won’t Change

President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington on Oct. 1, 2014.
Kevin Lamarque—Reuters President Barack Obama meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington on Oct. 1, 2014.

Obama and Netanyahu don't like each other, but Israel and the U.S. will have problems even when they're both out of office

Some accuse President Obama of undermining Israel’s security to protect a peace process that’s going nowhere. Others say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poisoning Israel’s relations with his country’s superpower protector and isolating Israel internationally. It’s clear that Obama and Netanyahu don’t trust or like each other. But the widening divide between these countries can’t be reduced to a personality conflict between leaders. Differences in the interests and worldviews of the two governments are becoming more important.

Begin with the “two-state solution.” In Washington, leaders of both parties will continue to prioritize the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. But Obama isn’t the only U.S. official who publicly supports the idea of an eventual Israeli compromise with Palestinians. Former President George W. Bush described himself in 2008 as the “first American president to call for a Palestinian state.” Support for this aspiration remains part of the Republican Party platform.

Israelis, on the other hand, even those who support a two-state solution in principle, are far more aware of the challenges in creating a viable country that connects Gaza and the West Bank—to say nothing of the political nightmare of trying to evict thousands of Israeli settlers from disputed land. Support for a two-state solution is not dead in either country, but Americans and Israelis do not look at this question with the same eyes. With every surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence, that gap becomes more obvious.

Obama and Netanyahu also hold opposing views on how best to ensure that Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons, but that difference reflects divergent ideas within their governments on the role Iran might play in the future. For the Obama administration, Iran might one day become an agent of change in the Middle East, because it’s a country that holds genuinely contested elections, however flawed, and it’s one in which a sizeable majority isn’t old enough to remember the religious revolution that the country’s leaders say gives them their mandate. For Israel’s government, Iran’s hardliners remain in firm control. Whatever the aspirations of its young people, Israel believes Iran must remain isolated until its elections are fully free and fair and its leaders recognize Israel’s right to exist. Nuclear negotiations have widened this gap.

These differences are made possible by the reality that the United States can afford to be less involved in the region’s rivalries than it once was. First, following the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is limited public support in the United States for any military commitment that might require a costly long-term occupation of territory. Bombing ISIS is one thing; invading Iraq all over again is another. Americans are not ready for a war with Iran. Second, the remarkable surge in U.S. domestic energy production of recent years leaves the U.S. less vulnerable to Middle East conflict. By the end of this decade, the United States will produce almost half the crude oil it consumes. More than 80 percent of its oil will come from North and South America. By 2020, the US could be the world’s largest oil producer, and by 2035 the country could become almost entirely energy self-sufficient.

That advantage allows the U.S. President to shift security and trade policy toward a stronger focus on East Asia, the region more important than any other for the strength and resilience of the global economy over the next generation. The men and women hoping to succeed Obama as President can afford to offer familiar reassurances on America’s commitment to Israel’s security, but the shifting international landscape, the challenges and opportunities created by China’s continued rise and new trans-Pacific trade opportunities will occupy a growing percentage of the next administration’s time.

Netanyahu has won another term, though his staying power will remain in question. Obama will be in office for another 22 months. The next leaders of the two countries will surely like each other better than Netanyahu and Obama do, but differences in U.S. and Israeli national interests are not going away.

TIME Israel

Israel Denies Spying on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.

Israeli PM Netanyahu weekly cabinet meeting
Abir Sultan—Reuters Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem Feb. 15, 2015.

"The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel's other allies."

Israel did not snoop on closed-door talks over Iran’s nuclear program involving the U.S., a senior official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday, denying an earlier report.

On Monday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials learned of the spying — which it said was part of Netanyahu’s effort to derail a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program — when American intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Israeli officials. Some of Israel’s information came from French sources, the newspaper reported.

U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment, but Netanyahu’s office slammed the report on Tuesday.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Argentina

Secret Nazi Hideout Believed Found in Argentina

Researchers found German coins and a porcelain plate dating back to World War II

Archeologists have discovered ruins in a remote jungle region of Argentina that are believed to be Nazi hideouts intended to act as safe havens if Germany lost World War II.

Inside three run-down buildings in the Teyú Cuaré park, near the border with Paraguay, researchers found five German coins minted during the Nazi regime and a porcelain plate marked “Made in Germany,” the Clarín newspaper reports.

“Apparently, halfway through World War II, the Nazis had a secret project of building shelters for top leaders in the event of defeat — inaccessible sites, in the middle of deserts, in the mountains, on a cliff or in the middle of the jungle like this,” team leader Daniel Schávelzon told Clarín.

In fact, the hideouts would prove unnecessary because after the war then Argentine President Juan Perón allowed thousands of Nazis, and other European fascists, to resettle in the South American nation. Most notorious among them was arguably Adolf Eichmann, a leading architect of the Holocaust, who in 1960 was found in Argentina by an Israeli intelligence group. He was abducted and eventually executed in Israel for his crimes.

[Clarín]

Read next: How a Speech Helped Hitler Take Power

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