February 4, 2015

Instead of denying he's naked on Iran, Bibi should put on some clothes

As much as I've tried to avoid it, the Netanyahu speech flap keeps festering and snowballing at the same time. In the mass media. 

Everyone involved is a calculating politician, so let's not pretend otherwise. Let's not pretend the White House was entirely above-board, and let's not pretend that the speech and its timing aren't more about Republican and Likud politics than about Iran's nuclear program. The idea that the looming deadline for nuclear negotiations and Israel's upcoming elections just happen to coincide, ignores the fact that Netanyahu decides when to call elections. Even FoxNews has criticized the idea

It's no longer about putting some pressure on the negotiations, so they fail. By being so obvious and over-the-top, Netanyahu has rebalanced the scales in Iran's favor, making it incrementally harder for the Western powers to exact the same concessions from Iran.

Democrats who rank high on AIPAC's friends' list are considering whether to skip Netanyahu's speech altogether. In all the decades of U.S.-Israel partnership and tensions, that's a first, it wasn't inevitable, and it hurts Israel more than it hurts Obama, Boehner, or even -- and especially -- Iran. As for Netanyahu's hometown audience back in Israel, we'll have to see whether he gains more votes than he loses, especially with right-wing contenders like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman trying to outdo him on the Paris attacks and Jordan's fight against ISIS.

At this late stage, IMHO, the best thing for everyone, including Netanyahu and the nation he leads -- and for the case against Iran -- would be for the PM to step back, apologize for falling into petty politics, and wait until after elections to schedule an official visit. Given that even Netanyahu's confidant and Washington envoy has already passed the buck, I have no illusions this will happen. But then Israel's national anthem is entitled "The Hope"...