Jason Koutsoukis Herald Correspondent in Jerusalem | April 18, 2009

CAN Israel still call the United States its best friend? Not if you believe the media in Israel.

The increasingly tense dialogue between the US President, Barack Obama, and the new Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has taken on all the trappings of a duel here.

Almost every day brings news of another sore point, blighting the once warm relationship between the two countries.

Anyone could be forgiven for thinking the most immediate threat to national security in Israel lay across the Atlantic. That Mr Obama uses almost every opportunity he gets to set the parameters of a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine is bad enough.

But now officials in his administration are openly using Israeli anxiety at Iran’s nuclear program as a bargaining chip to force its hand on giving up control of the West Bank Palestinian territory.