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.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.


    I respectfully disagree. I think you overplay Israel's nuclear status. The middle east region looks the way it is because of Israel's use of conventional weapons and the West's desire to control the countries that produce oil. America is doing to the middle east what the British did to the region before them. Israel's nuclear capability IMO has nothing to do with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    @16. Lou Cypher "Islam is intolerant"

    Sir Hamilton Gibb, wrote: "The nobility and broad tolerance of this religion [Islam], which accepted all the real religions of the world as God-inspired, will always be a glorious heritage for mankind. No other society has such a record of success in uniting, in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavor, so many and so various races of humanity."

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Agent 00Soul
    I suspect that most Americans definitely do not want to die for Israel

    I'm not sure that by stopping an extremist regime from getting a nuclear weapon you are dying for Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Is it the Israel who must tell the United States government what to do, such as form a red line on Iran’s nuclear issues, and the United States government must make such vital decisions under the influence another country ?

    Americans should be insulted if their government takes marching orders from Israe

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    35. MagicKirin

    Support Israel not jihadists

    Clear and unequivocal support for Israel has now become a "call to war" in certain people's minds. People like this, who jump to conclusions, are difficult to reason with and are not helpful in the chess game being played out.

    Let's hope that cooler heads prevail all around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    2 Hours ago

    Mr Obama is no real friend of Israel & it becomes more & more apparrent.

    No, and why is that? That is the question me and my friends would like answered. We do not agree with Obama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    @mjc1357 Yes, the Koran does have compassionate verses in it, however, the Old and New Testaments do not teach that Jihad is one of eight ways into heaven, quite the opposite. The Ten Commandments say not to kill. When have you ever heard of forgiveness being taught at a Mosque. Christians nor Jews nor Buddhists nor Taoists nor any other religion says strapping bombs to yourself gets you near God.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I suspect that most Americans definitely do not want to die for Israel, even if they support the country in other ways. I would love to see a poll for this actually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    20. Rusholme Ruffian
    15 MINS AGO
    America hasn't trusted Israel for decades - and for good reason. America only trusts the other main five powers of NATO.
    An interesting post however if Israel didn't have the Bomb the region may already look different. I also doubt very much that the USA trusts the 5 Permanent Members of the UN security council.
    Iran cannot get the bomb.
    Most agree on that

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    You say 'most americans' thats not what the opionion polls suggest. Its more like half the voters want one thing the other half want something else, but a greater number of people are realising that their country is being manipulated by Isreal and Iran. After a decade of war in the middle east do we really want to get tangled in other s### storm.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Governor Romney is suggesting that America should start another war.He is accepting Israeli fabrications the way Bush accepted regarding Iraq.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    "16. Lou Cypher said that Islam does not teach forgiveness"
    There is a well known story that Muslims are taught: A lady would torment Prophet Muhammad by placing thorns on his path and pour dung on his head while he prayed. When she did not appear he was concerned and looked in on her and wished her well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    12. MagicKirin
    You do know the majority of Americans favor Israel and do not support the Palestinians
    Obama anti-Israeli stance is not well thought of in this country.
    That maybe so

    But this is about Iran
    Not Palestine

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Netanyahu needs to address the allegations against Israel for committing human rights violations against Palestinians including violating the Geneva Convention. US general population is looking at Bibi as unfavorably as they see Mitt Romney. Our congressional leaders wanting to be re-elected are listening to us too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The region is already unstable. Putting a nuclear weapon in the hands of Ahmadinejad would further destabilize the region and put Europe and the Middle East in jeopardy. Sanctions have not worked or been fully implemented. If the situation continues to destabilize or Israel goes it alone then we will be looking at $10 to $15/gallon gasoline at best. Think what that will do the the global economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Since the President is directly attacking Israel, how do you expect their Prime Minister to react? I'm just surprised the Pope has not given a sermon from the Vatican condemning a government that directly attacks the religion he heads. Those American voters who love Israel, the faith headquartered there, and your church, ought to pay attention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    10 Minutes ago
    The USA has been letting Israel get away with occupying The West Bank and Gaza for too long, that's where the red line should be drawn. That's why there is so much anti-americanism in the Middle East.
    thats the islamists and their apologists excuse. The fact is Israel has made the only sacrfices for peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Lou Cypher you need to do a little more reading of scripture. The Koran has plenty of compassionate lessons. It's the Old testament that suggests an eye for an eye. Just as there are Christians who are hard hearted and do not practice Christ's teachings of compassion, mercy, tolerance and forgiveness. There are Islamists who ignore the Koran when it suits their purpose.


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