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Netanyahu rushes to mend ties with Obama after seeming to back Romney in U.S. election

JERUSALEM Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rushing to repair ties with President Obama after sharp disagreements during the past four years over Iran and the Palestinians.

When the U.S. election results were announced, Netanyahu immediately summoned U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro to his office in Jerusalem.

"The security relationship between the United States and Israel is rock solid," Netanyahu said with the ambassador at his side, "and I look forward to working with President Obama to further strengthen this relationship and ... to advance our goals of peace and security."

But analysts and politicians see a rocky road ahead.

They say Netanyahu, who has had a tense relationship with Mr. Obama and who was seen as openly supporting Mitt Romney, bet on the wrong horse; and now Mr. Obama may be less sympathetic to Israel's interests.

"It seems like it is not such a good morning for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," said Israeli Cabinet Minister Eli Yishai, commenting on Mr. Obama's victory.

The lack of chemistry between Netanyahu and President Obama has been widely reported and has provided fodder for the Israel's political opposition.

"I think that a prime minister in Israel should not do two things: He does not interfere in the elections in the U.S. and he does not gamble on one of the candidates," said opposition leader Shaul Mofaz. "This definitely caused damage."

With President Obama facing few political constraints in the next four years, Israel fears it will not get crucial U.S. support on two key issues: its vehement opposition to the Palestinians' bid for statehood recognition at the U.N. General Assembly later this month, and Iran's alleged quest for an atomic bomb.

Israeli officials worry that Mr. Obama will simply stretch out what they see as fruitless negotiations with Iran - possibly prompting Israel to carry out its longtime threat of a preemptive strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.

That could happen as early as next summer, when Israel believes Iran will cross the "red line" of a nuclear weapons capability. Iran's leader has threatened to wipe the Jewish state "off the map," and Israel sees an Iranian nuclear weapon as an existential threat.

"The context is the same context, with an America that is incredibly wary of military involvement, and an Israel for whom time is running out," The Times of Israel editor David Horovitz told Israel Television.

Other analysts, however, say the "lack of chemistry" between the two leaders is mostly a creation of the media and that the issue of a nuclear Iran is far too threatening and too much of a mutual interest to be derailed by personal vendettas.

With that in mind, Israel is determined to get the all-important ties with its guardian ally back on track. But smoothing over differences and finding common ground will put Netanyahu's astute diplomatic skills to the test.

By CBS Radio News correspondent Robert Berger

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