Israel's Prime Minister is using the potential nuclear deal with Iran for his own personal political reasons. While there is still time he should heed the advice of those who actually do value the close and, until now, non-partisan relationship between Israel and the United States.    

If you watched the German Chancellor and the American President in their world security focused press conference this week, you would have good reason to be hopeful that the spectre of a nuclear armed Iran is fading fast.

It is not yet a dead cert but all indications are the pendulum has swung from pessimist back to the optimist side with the deadline for a political framework agreement March 1.

Now, according to Obama it is time for Iran to make a clear decision after the protracted negotiations with P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UNSC and Germany).

In short the deal which would be finalised on July 1, would allow Iran to have peaceful nuclear power but no weapons, in exchange for monitoring and release from crippling economic sanctions.

Iran, a signed up member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, would be treated like other NPT members.

There is of course the not insubstantial matter of a certain leader of a non-NPT signatory nuclear state who is determined to trash any deal/peace talk for his personal political survival.

Yes, step up Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu for whom a platform from which to berate the world about a dangerous deal with Iran is an electoral wet dream.

So much so he is willing to take a blow torch to Israeli-US relations by turning them partisan in accepting an invitation to address the Republican controlled Congress just two weeks before the March 17 Israeli elections, and two days after we will know if the Iran deal is off. If it fails there may well be lashings of humble pie for Netanyahu, but in the real world there will be serious consternation.

Much is written about the short-sighted personality of Netanyahu which is driven by his own electoral success and his determination to pay only lip service to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. He believes he can sell Israelis the status quo when it is backed by apartheid walls and billions of dollars of US military aid and missile defense systems.

Netanyahu is an Iran hawk along the lines of Republican Ted Cruz who advocates the US arm Israel with bunker busting bombs so it can eliminate Iran’s (“terrorist nation”) nuclear programme.

Cruz seems to conveniently forget Israel could use its own stash of nukes to do the job without dragging in the Americans, and be left to clean up its own mess.

But let’s not forget the Republicans have held off on extending the sanctions on Iran until the nuclear deal is either signed or collapses which is a positive.  

The focus of Netanyahu’s address will be the existential threat he asserts Iran poses to Israel, and he is willing to risk falling flat on his face if the P5+1 deal collapses before he hits the floor of Congress. Presumably his speech writers will be close by.

As of today Netanyahu has been forced to claim his decision to speak to Congress is not based on politics and further, he is not looking for a fight with Obama!

Perhaps he should sign up for the next Tui billboard.

This defensive posture is in response to growing criticism from within Israel and abroad for a number of fairly simple reasons.

* The deal that is so close has been painstakingly hammered out by a united world  which has taken the opportunity to capitalise on the most moderate regime in Iran for some years. It is not a US-Iran deal and it is concerned with world peace which does, although you wouldn’t know it from Netanyahu’s stance, include Israel.

* Netanyahu’s actions by aligning his right-wing Likud party with the Republicans, have, according to Obama, put a “cloud of partisan politics” over US-Israel relations - not to even mention further acid on the personal relationship between the two leaders.

* A growing body of American Jews has taken exception to Netanyahu coming to Washington ostensibly to speak for the world’s Jews. Their reaction is he may well be the Prime Minister of Israel, but he does not speak for them.

* Netanyahu has made a mockery of his domestic political process where his rivals have  pointed out that in Israel it is illegal to broadcast campaign speeches for 60 days before an election. His lawyers have been arguing before the Central Election Committee that the speech should be broadcast as an important matter which has great news value and the Israeli public has a right to view it. 

* Accepting the Republican issued invitation breaks with Washington’s protocol of not hosting world leaders just weeks before their elections. Accordingly Netanyahu’s actions have created a rift with key Democrats (including Joe Biden) who must chose between supporting Israel (for some reason essential to election in the US) and supporting the President whose absence from the speech has been stated from the outset of this debacle.

Netanyahu is free to make a fool of himself on the world stage, but to claim that he is continuing to “lead international efforts” to stop “this bad and dangerous agreement” is just embarrassing, especially when the Iranians are preparing for acceptance of the compromises the deal will demand of them, and the "international efforts" have been going for the deal, not against it. 

Opinion in the US tends towards the foolishness of Netanyahu’s determination to make his speech. Even Thomas Friedman calls it a bad mistake and one which will make Israel’s friends uncomfortable and confirm for those he refers to as “anti-Semites” that Israel controls Washington. (Important to note that opposing the Israeli government’s actions does not make anyone an anti-Semite which Friedman surely knows).

The essential message at this point is the world is on the cusp of eliminating the threat of a nuclear armed Iran.

That would pull back the need for a military response triggering yet another war in the Middle East where, because of proxies and religious divides, is never confined to nice neat bombable geographical boundaries.

Netanyahu is being disingenuous in his claims that no deal with Iran is safer for Israel than the deal at hand.

The Prime Minister has tarnished and politicised relations with his country’s key benefactor at a time when the world is growing weary of Israeli politics.

He is doing what is best for his personal political survival and is taking his chances in a messy and divided Israeli electoral system.        

Sure the world media is talking about him, but is any publicity really still better than none at all?

Mr Netanyahu, send your Chief of Defence to talk tough to the Amercians about Iran, then, after the Israeli election graciously accept President Obama’s invitation to visit the White House, should you be the appropriate recipient. 

Comments (4)

by Andrew P Nichols on February 11, 2015
Andrew P Nichols

"the spectre of a nuclear armed Iran is fading fast."

Generally agree with your article but really - this?

It has nearly ALWAYS been nothing more than a spectre. If only journos like yourself would just once acknowledge and not ignore the consistent message of the National Security Aseessments of the USA that have said there is no evidence for an Iranian nuclear weapons programme .

The immoral sanctions are an Israeli US Saudi regime change strategy against the most significant nation independent of the Empire. This is a historical disgrace.

by Flat Eric on February 11, 2015
Flat Eric

Some people disagree with what Netanyahu has to say. Wasn't only a few weeks ago the left were all in favour of free speech, even if it offends?

by Serum on February 11, 2015

The deal that is so close has been painstakingly hammered out by a united world which has taken the opportunity to capitalise on the Iran for some years.

It is now clear that the West will allow absolutely no evidence, however devastating, to prevent a deal being signed with Iranover its nuclear programme. From the start, there has been a total dislocation of reality. The US, UK and EU fawned over Iran’s new President Rouhani for ushering in a new dawn of reform in August 2013— the same Rouhani who boasted of previously hoodwinking the US over Iran’s nuclear programme. Last November, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, phoned Rouhani to welcome his moves after taking office. Yet under Rouhani, repression has become even more horrific giving a lie to the most moderate regime in Iran for some years. Executions have risen sharply, with 721 people hanged for the year 2014 in contrast to 522 hanged in 2012 under the hard line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Western leaders swear they will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the whole world stated David Cameron; Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.” Yet the interim deal signed in Geneva, November 2013, endorsed by Cameron, ensures that this certainly will happen. It allows Iran to enrich uranium, crossing the West’s ostensible red line. It allows the Arak heavy water reactor — necessary solely for the production of nuclear weapons— to remain on course. Its inspection provisions are a joke. Rouhani has accurately hailed the deal as a Western surrender.

Iran has apparently produced an intercontinental ballistic missile whose range far exceeds the distance between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and Europe. Satellite imagery showed new missile-related sites that Iran recently constructed just outside Tehran. One facility is a missile launch site, capable of sending a rocket into space or of firing an ICBM. On the launch pad was a new 27-meter long missile, never seen before. The missile and the launch pad indicate that Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is an integral part of its nuclear weapons program, is moving forward at full throttle. The expanded range of Iran’s ballistic missile program as indicated by the satellite imagery makes clear that its nuclear weapons program is not merely a threat to Israel, or to Israel and Europe, it is a direct threat to the United States as well.

Recently, during Obama’s visit with the new Saudi King Salman, Obama got an earful from the monarch regarding the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But it seemed to have no impact on his nuclear diplomacy with Teheran. The administration believes that Iran and Saudi Arabia will be able to kiss and make up and bury a thousand- year rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Islam because they both oppose the Islamic State. This too is utter fantasy.

Boehner didn’t invite Netanyahu because he cares about Israel’s election. He invited Netanyahu because he cares about US national security. He believes that by having Netanyahu speak on the issues of Iran’s nuclear program and radical Islam, he will advance America’s national security. Boehner’s chief concern, and that of the majority of his colleagues from the Democratic and Republican parties alike, is that President Barack Obama’s policy in regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program imperils the US. Just as the invitation to Netanyahu was a bipartisan invitation, so concerns about Obama’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear program are bipartisan concerns. In particular, Obama has adopted a position on Iran that puts him far beyond the mainstream of US politics. This radical position has placed the president on a collision course with Congress best expressed by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. During a hearing at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee where Menendez serves as ranking Democratic member, he said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”


Accepting the Republican issued invitation with Washington's protocol of not hosting world leaders just weeks before their elections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an Obama Administration ally, was hosted at the White House prior to recent German elections. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the left wing Labor Party visited1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not once, but twice prior to British elections. Those were won by Conservative party leader David Cameron, who himself visited Washington last week at Obama’s invitation to lobby the U.S. Congress against adopting a new sanctions measure to help confront Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program. Oddly, that’s the very issue Obama and the mainstream media now roundly condemn John Boehner for involving himself in.

The hypocrisy that the Obama campaign operatives, having now arrived in Israel, is breathtaking in their quest to undermine the democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister in the up and coming election and reinforces the long list of Obama Administration meddling in foreign elections.

by Stewart Hawkins on February 12, 2015
Stewart Hawkins

Netanyahu is the leader of the Free World. It certainly isn't Oblunder.

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.