Obama, Israel’s Elections Are About Iran

February 18, 2015

3 min read

Unfortunately, there are many sources of tension between the Obama administration and ‎Netanyahu’s government. The main issue of discord is, of course Iran. Obama seeks an agreement ‎with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program that will ensure that, under his watch at least, ‎Tehran does not get the bomb. The fact that Iran will maintain the capability to enrich uranium, and will ‎not dismantle any of its nuclear installations, is simply swept under the rug as insignificant. Moreover, ‎it seems that Obama considers Iran, as strange as it sounds, to be a strategic partner in the attempt to ‎bring stability to a region beleaguered by chaos. ‎

Consequently, the United States capitulates on the nuclear issue, and accepts a nuclear agreement ‎with no conditions that might curtail Iran’s freedom of action. Taking over Yemen (and throwing ‎American diplomats out of the country); carving a sphere of influence in Iraq; providing continuous ‎support to the butcher in Damascus and strengthening Hezbollah‎’s grip over Lebanon; engaging in ‎subversion in Central Asia; and maintaining its terrorist apparatus: All these are now overlooked. In the ‎Grand Bargain between the U.S. and Iran, Tehran gets all it wants, while Washington gets an Iranian ‎promise not to go nuclear as long as Obama is in the White House. Having made no foreign policy ‎achievements throughout his presidency, Obama, perhaps obsessively, now wants the relationship ‎with Iran to serve as his foreign policy legacy. ‎

This foolish behavior negatively affects America’s own position in the Middle East, as well as the ‎national interests of its closest ally, Israel. Although Israel has never been close to his heart, Obama ‎understands that Israeli concerns strike a sensitive chord with the American public. And this is precisely ‎why he does not want Netanyahu to speak in the U.S. Congress. Obama fears that Netanyahu’s speech ‎could become a catalyst for a public debate about his own dangerous policy toward Iran, publicity ‎which can only be damaging for him. The last thing he needs is a gifted orator such as Netanyahu ‎pointing out the glaring deficiencies in the American approach toward Iran. ‎

And this is precisely why Netanyahu is determined to defy Obama’s wishes. The gravity of the Iranian ‎threat is accepted by most Israelis, of varying political hues. As long as there is a chance, however ‎slight, that an address to Congress will reinvigorate the public debate in the U.S. on Iran, and obstruct ‎the administration’s attempt to sign a deal, Netanyahu feels compelled to make a heroic stand, against ‎all odds, in an attempt to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat. Paradoxically, Obama’s efforts to prevent ‎Netanyahu from visiting Washington, and to convince Congress members to boycott the session, only ‎increase the interest in what Israel’s prime minister has to say. ‎

Beyond the personal animosity and the vast difference in worldviews, Obama does not want ‎Netanyahu around because he considers Israel’s prime minister a serious spoiler of his most important ‎foreign policy initiative — an issue of true global scale. But it is not only in Washington that Obama ‎considers Netanyahu to be unwelcome. He’d like to oust him from Jerusalem as well, and has made ‎every effort to unseat Israel’s prime minister — and not for the first time. Once again we are witness to ‎American intervention in Israeli elections, through expressing displeasure with Likud candidates, ‎providing large-scale funding to an anti-Netanyahu campaign, and enlisting Jewish activists and donors.‎

Obama does not want Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel even after a deal is signed with Iran. He ‎has no desire to be exposed to Netanyahu’s continued criticism, realizing as he does that the ‎proposed deal has many loopholes, and that Iranian violations of the agreement are probable. He also ‎takes seriously Netanyahu’s statement that Israel is not bound by America’s unilateral agreements. In ‎Obama’s view, a paranoid Netanyahu may still utilize the military option, and thereby destroy his only ‎foreign policy “success.”‎

And Obama is probably right on this point. Among the candidates for prime minister in the upcoming ‎elections, only Netanyahu is passionate about Iran, and only Netanyahu would consider ordering the ‎Israel Defense Forces to attack Iranian nuclear installations in defiance of the United States. While the election ‎campaigns in Israel are focused more on personalities than on issues, the underlying theme of the ‎elections is the Iranian threat. Netanyahu did not refrain from escalating the conflict with Iran in ‎January 2015, and boldly authorized the attack beyond the Syrian border that killed an Iranian general. ‎Under certain circumstances, he could go even further. This is the key issue that Israelis are being ‎asked to decide in March 2015, and Obama is attempting to influence this decision.‎

Reprinted with author’s permission from Israel Hayom

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