For three and a half decades, ever since the peace agreement with Egypt was signed, Israel has enjoyed strategic security as well as diplomatic and economic cooperation with the United States. But this important arrangement, which worked well as long as each side knew its role in the equation, is liable to be gravely impaired by Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions.
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It seems the Israeli prime minister, due primarily to electoral considerations, is determined to act like a wrecking ball. On the eve of Israel’s election, Netanyahu is insisting on damaging Israel’s most important relationship. His grip on power is shaky, and he’s acting like someone who has nothing to lose.
Instead of respecting the American president and refraining from intervention in his domestic and foreign policy, Netanyahu is insisting on embarrassing Barack Obama in his home court. He will challenge Obama on Capitol Hill and urge the president’s political opponents to disrupt his diplomacy with Iran, just so that he can portray himself as the “savior of the nation” back home and please his master, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, an avid supporter of both Netanyahu and the Republicans.
Warnings were sounded from the moment Speaker of the House John Boehner, together with Netanyahu and his ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, concocted this anti-Obama address to a joint session of Congress, and these warnings are coming true every day.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice could not have been clearer about Netanyahu’s presumption and its destructive impact, both on the substance of the Iranian issue and on exacerbating America’s domestic political disputes between Republicans and Democrats.
If Netanyahu were a responsible leader, he would never have gone so low as to engage in a frontal confrontation with the U.S. president.
Instead, he would have made sure to forge an alliance of interests with Obama based on mutual understandings. Then, surely, he would have been able to exert significant influence over the negotiations with Iran, whereas his speech isn’t expected to have any influence at all, aside from destroying Israel’s relationship with the United States.
This flawed judgment, which betrays the trust the public reposed in him as a leader and a statesman, bolsters the need to elect a different prime minister. And one of that premier’s first tasks will be to fix what Netanyahu has destroyed.