NEW DELHI: United States President Barack Obama’s first comments following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election cast a shadow of disappointment over the Israeli leader.

Referring to Netanyahu’s pre-poll assertion that he was opposed to the creation of a Palestinian State, Obama, in an interview with The Huffington Post said, “We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership, and so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region.”

Although Netanyahu attempted to recast himself as amenable to a two-state solution after the results of the elections placed him in the lead, the damage has already been done with the White House not even attempting to mask its displeasure. Obama reportedly told Netanyahu in a telephone call that "it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible."

Obama also criticised Netanyahu’s Netanyahu's Election Day warning about Arab Israeli voters going to the polls "in droves." "We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions. That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly," said Obama. "And I think that that is what's best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don't believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country."

Although the US President linked Netanyahu’s campaign tactics in particular to compromising democracy in Israel, the Israeli Prime Minister’s re-election, Obama felt would have no impact on negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme. Frankly," he said, "they have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think going to be needed for a final deal to get done. But they have moved, and so there's the possibility."

Tensions between the US and Israel have simmered ahead of Israel’s elections, with a flashpoint being Netanyahu’s address to Congress on the Iran deal. Obama -- who hadn’t invited Netanyahu in the first place -- did not even attend. Faced with criticism, Netanyahu refused to cancel the speech. Netanyahu tweeted, “I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President but to speak up for the very survival of my country.”

The speech however, had more to do with Netanyahu’s own survival, that Israel’s. It was a gamble meant to cater to the right-wing vote in Israel, at the expense of the country’s relations with the White House. Netanyahu seems to believe that if he is able to successfully trump up national security as a key issue, he may be able to return for a historic fourth term.

The gamble paid off but at the cost of alienating Israel’s closest ally -- the US.

In fact, although media reports have focused on Netanyahu’s opposition to a two-nation solution as the key factor in the dip in ties, the Israeli leaders aides have cited Iran as the source of tensions.

Yuval Steinitz, a Likud minister loyal to Netanyahu, told Israeli radio on Sunday that the main reason for tensions with Washington was “the strong disagreement we have with the United States over the Iran issue.” “We cannot accept the idea that the whole world — the Iranians, the Europeans, the Americans — are talking about the nuclear agreement with Iran and we have to sit quietly on the side,” he said.

Similarly, Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations who was a formal adviser to Netanyahu, said (as quoted in The New York Times), “I don’t see the disagreements over the Palestinians being the basis for the state of relations — it must extend to the fact that they’re about to cut a deal with Tehran and they know that Israel has serious reservations about the substance of that agreement.” “The issue of Iran is paramount in both Jerusalem and in Washington, and it may affect the tone at present.”

Whether the negotiations with Iran or Netanyahu’s position on Palestine is the source, the bottom line is that US-Israel relations have dipped to a historic low -- thereby reshaping the Middle East and perhaps even, paving the way for Iran’s growing influence in the region.