Netanyahu gets tangled up in US election

 
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama on 5 March 2012 Barack Obama will not meet Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly

Iran is not on the agenda. But it is on their minds.

As the big United Nations meeting gets underway, the West's biggest foreign policy challenge is not likely to be discussed.

But Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bluntly demanded to know when the time will be right to use force against Iran's nuclear weapons programme.

He's asked the question so well that it has been turned into a US presidential election TV ad. The advert ends with the words: "The world needs American strength. Not apologies."

Given that Mitt Romney, author of No Apology, has repeatedly accused the president of apologising for America, it is not too hard to work out whom the ad is backing.

Of course Mr Netanyahu bears no responsibility for how others use his speeches. But Israeli officials do seem to be behind a claim that he had been snubbed by Mr Obama, who won't be meeting the prime minister at the UN.

Some in Israel say Mr Netanyahu is putting a vital relationship at risk.

He's sent a message to the White House stressing that he is not interfering in the American election on behalf of Mitt, with whom he worked in the 1970s.

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One well-connected insider has told me that many in the American Jewish community think Mr Netanyahu has been brazen and insolent”

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So, many in Washington are asking the question: "What is Bibi up to?"

While Downing Street and the White House are united in their public and private insistence that Iran must not get the bomb, they are also deeply unenthusiastic about getting involved in another war.

Some think Mr Netanyahu wants assurances that if Israel doesn't act before the US election, there will be American action after it.

Mr Obama is not willing to give such assurances, in public or private. There is a determination, not least because of public opinion, to negotiate with Iran until it either yields results or it becomes crystal clear to everyone that further negotiations are pointless.

One well-connected insider has told me that many in the American Jewish community think Mr Netanyahu has been brazen and insolent, that his tactic has backfired.

There's a belief that superficially, what Mr Netanyahu wants is simple. He would like to pressure Mr Obama to promise he will take military action, so Israel need not go it alone. But he will not be given this assurance.

So, my insider believes that having raised the possibility of war, "made everyone's flesh creep, and marched us up to the top of the mountain", the Israel leader is now looking for a "gilded ladder" to climb down.

That may reassure the White House ahead of an election, but it still leaves open how Mr Obama or a President Romney would resolve the larger crisis.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • Comment number 385.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 384.

    1948, when the US was required to recognize Israel Truman was fighting for his political life. His campaign was bankrupt. At the last moment Jewish millionaires jumped in to save him.In 1956 Eisenhower was in re-election campaign when Israel attacked Egypt,he didnot need Jewish votes and money and put a stop to the war..Does Obama really needs jewish votes this yr, I do not think so..

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    Comment number 383.

    So regarding that video
    I would tell Muslims
    Welcome to the real world
    ---------
    You are the first person to call internet a real world....
    Sure Iranian president listens to every word which his enemies Usa and Israel says..thats how he sticks to reality and his enemies talk about what they believe and hardly mention the reality...Pay more attention to reality not to what you believe happens

  • rate this
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    Comment number 382.

    Colonel: when the target is moslems

    The target can be anything
    If you look on the internet, anything+everything is gloried+villified

    So regarding that video
    I would tell Muslims
    Welcome to the real world

    Colonel: you walk out when Iranian president speaks

    Does the Iranian President listen to the Israeli President all the way through?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 381.

    The US president condemned the violence that erupted over the "disgusting" anti-Islam video as "an attack on UN ideals"
    --------------------------------
    As if using UN to wage war against countries is very much according to UN ideals, Sending drones to sovergein countries and killing people,as if, is also in accordance with UN ideals..Free speech is american ideal, not UN's ideal...

 

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