Netanyahu and Obama between War and Dialogue

Without the consent of the executive, Republicans invited Netanyahu to give an inflammatory speech against Washington’s policy to start Iran nuclear talks. The speech, given before the United States Congress, represented a humiliation for President Obama. Beyond that humiliation, there are two unavoidable factors that explain what happened: first, the Republican far right is tugging at the polarization of American politics, inviting the Israeli prime minister to give a speech at the capitol in a joint session of Congress in order to wreck Obama’s foreign policy on the Iranian nuclear program.

The second factor has to do with the interests that Israel has in the Middle East, trying to keep its nuclear hegemony in the region. We should wonder what the meaning is of the fundamental disagreement expressed by Netanyahu, and Obama’s response when rejecting the more than 40 minute speech before Congress, without the approval of the Obama administration and a few days before the Israeli elections. By giving that speech, Netanyahu tried to destroy the work that the government’s civil servants have been carrying out for a year to start talks with Iran on its nuclear program. He tried to wreck these talks based on three arguments: Iran has not shown its good will to Israel and other countries; Iran gives support to terrorist attacks in the world; and he refused the idea that Iran can have some kind of reliability because it is fighting the Islamic State. He said that Iran and the latter are competing for the crown of militant Islam.

In short, and as Obama had stated, what Netanyahu wants, by violating some basic rules of respect among states, is to carry on with a policy that does not consider the talks that Washington is having with Iran. “Netanyahu offered no viable alternative to Iran nuclear talks.” The only option that stems from Netanyahu’s speech is that Iran continues to be regarded as a terrorist state we cannot negotiate with and therefore should treat as an enemy.

It is important to remember that Israel, in the recent past, threatened to bomb nuclear facilities in Iran. These threats were credible by the way, since it bombed nuclear facilities in Iraq years ago. It is even important to remember what George W. Bush said: the main reason he used to invade Iraq was the alleged trafficking of nuclear weapons, never proven but rejected by United Nations inspectors.

Israel developed nuclear weapons in the 80s. It never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the United States backed this country. It is not possible to think that there should be more nuclear weapons in the world, but rather fewer. The continuity of the Iran nuclear talks is important now that they have reached the final stage, with the participation of the P5+1 (China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany).

However, if there were no alternative to dialogue, only the option of conflict and war would remain. Is this what Netanyahu wants? There are two policies for the Middle East: war and peace. Again, Israel is showing that it prefers the first one. It is not only about a defense policy on the part of Tel Aviv, but also about remaining the only state to have nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

The best solution would be the nuclear disarmament of all states in the region, as happened in Latin America where, thanks to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, a regional agreement was reached to not develop more nuclear weapons. Would Israel be ready? Israel is the only country with nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

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