The Falling Out

There’s nothing outrageous about the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu considers it his duty to preserve the security of his country. That is self-evident, and especially so when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. So if Netanyahu warns from his position that the current negotiations would result in putting the security of Israel in jeopardy, that is not so improper. The only question is whether the way he goes about it and the staging of his visit to Washington are especially prudent.

His appearance before both houses of Congress had the purpose of garnering kudos from his home crowd — Israel will vote in two weeks, surprise! — as well as mobilizing resistance in the Capitol against the agreement and approach of President Obama.

With his appearance, Netanyahu brings himself close to Republicans, who gave him something of a hero’s welcome in Congress for obvious motives: they don’t like the looming deal with Iran, and they do not like the president. However, many Democrats are skeptical. In turn, more than a few Democrats unabashedly stayed away from Netanyahu’s appearance in the Capitol, which had a dissociative effect on Netanyahu’s trip to Washington. He provoked Obama, who hit back pretty hard, and he is driving a wedge between the parties.

The relationship between the president and the head of government fighting for re-election is shattered. There is nothing to sugarcoat. It can’t be good for the security concerns of Israel. Obama is who he is, so it’s doubtful that Netanyahu will succeed in putting pressure on him via Congress. That could be a huge miscalculation. The question is how the falling-out will generally affect the Israel-American relationship. In any case, Obama won’t be making a lapdog out of Netanyahu.

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