If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frustrated by the United States’ reluctance to deliver a clear ultimatum to Iran, wanted to make the Obama administration feel uncomfortable by creating another confrontation, he obviously succeeded. Netanyahu’s comments about drawing a "red line," for Iran renewed tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, which in turn became very public in the U.S.
- White House declines Netanyahu request to meet with Obama
- Obama phones Netanyahu after White House snubs Israeli PM’s request to meet
The Washington Post reported "Israel, U.S. publicly at odds over ‘red line’ for Iran."
The Christian Science Monitor quoted Netanyahu's "defiant comments" in an article titled "Netanyahu criticizes US refusal to draw a 'red line' on Iran."
The "Los Angeles Times" speculated that "calls for the Obama administration to set red lines could give Netanyahu the political cover he may need if Israel decides to refrain from an attack."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer dedicated a segment in his show to the White House snub of Netanyahu, while Elise Labott, the network's Foreign Affairs reporter, wondered in her Twitter account: "Reports from Israel POTUS won't meet Netanyahu @ #UNGA. Ask yourself would you grant the meeting requested on day he trashed you on Iran?"
The U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stressed again on Tuesday that the U.S. administration doesn't see public discussion of Iranian nuclear program and red lines as useful. "We don't think it's particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn't help the process and it doesn't help the integrity of the diplomacy. To be standing here at the podium parsing the details of the Iranian nuclear program is not helpful to getting where we want to go," she said, while briefing to the media.
Nuland added that the US is having "incredibly intense, high-level consultations with the Israelis all through this. Certainly the diplomacy that you saw over the summer with Secretary Clinton there, with Secretary Panetta there, with National Security Adviser Donilon there, speaks to our commitment to this alliance, our commitment to Israel's security, our commitment to working together to ensure, as the president has said, that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. And that commitment remains absolutely firm. I'm not going to comment today on Prime Minister Netanyahu's statements, but as we said yesterday, we are in continuous consultations with the government of Israel, with our allies there on what we are seeing in Iran, on the path forward, and we will continue to do so."
Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, visiting Washington this week echoed the U.S. administration’s position, expressing in his public his disagreement over the Israeli government’s insisting on America drawing a "red line" for Iran.
"I don’t believe in red line policies, because when you’re stating something at time one, it might not be the same at time two," he said at the J Street lobby briefing. "When you are saying red line, you’re claiming you can draw a line based on what the other side is doing... when it comes to the decision, someone will come up with an excuse,"said Halutz.
He added that he believes the sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime "are working" and that he doesn't think "anyone in Israel thinks we should attack immediately in spite of all the noises recently.”