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 105.

    Whether Obama agrees or disagrees w/ Netanyahu
    its just plain wrong that he won't meet with him at some point during UN conference

    Especially w/ all the MidEast protests+upheavel
    we should be meeting with Israel+strengthening our ties

    That being said at Dem National Convention Dems in audience booed both God+Israel so its clear what side the Dem party is on
    vs the Repub party

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    The timing favers Iran becuase of the Election in US and Obama's vision of the Countries of the Region on equal footing to achieve Peace. The danger is Irans' opportunity to obtain an atomic bomb & Israel's pre-emptive attack that may lead to more Regional conflict.The issue is at a cross road & it will be wise for US to give guidance & hope the Jew vote will contribute for Peace & not War.

  • Comment number 103.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    96.Party In The Slum
    "Israel was allocated that land for European Jews by USA and UK 50+ years ago." Hope the person who taught you history is no longer teaching or are you just making this stuff up. It was United Nations Resolution 181 in 1948 which partitioned the region of Palestine into Arab and Jewish enclaves. 33 nations voted for it, 13 nations opposed it, and 10 nations did not vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Q. Which country celebrates an annual "Death to America" day?

    Clue: It ain't the State of Israel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I think even the present Iranian govt can be manipulated. With Israel having 200+ nuclear weapons there's no need to rush. Once the jewish have voted in Nov and Obama is re-elected, the REAL middle east game begins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    It is hard to fathom why americans cannot make the connection between over funded army with under funded schools and health which in turn create over funded police and jails that are necessary to deal with all the sick idiots running around creating murder and havoc, really hard to understand that one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    90.Party In The Slum
    "Arabs, Jews, and European are all of the same racial stock of what is known as Indo-European. Plus, Middle Eastern Jews(aka: Sabras) share more genetic material with their Arab brethren than they do with any other ethnic group. So racism is not a factor here." Though I will concede that a since of cultural superiority is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    re.78 Curt Carpenter:

    The present Iranian government is still producing uranium enriched beyond the needs of commercial reactors. I agree with you about the risks of military action but the risks of a nuclear armed Iran outweigh them. Iran still holds weekly "death to America" rallies, calls us the Great Satan and is a state sponsor of terrorist groups. Should we wait for a city to blow up?

  • Comment number 96.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    90.Party In The Slum
    "... like when Hitler invaded Germany." Holy crap! Who in the world taught you history? Plus, Arabs, Jews, and European are all of the same racial stock of what is known as Indo-European. Plus, Middle Eastern Jews(aka: Sabras) share more genetic material with their Arab brethren than they do with any other ethnic group except Egyptians. So racism is not a factor here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Of Israel, misrepresentation and lies!

    Honestly, just what does Israel intend to accomplish?

    And could Israel think the West could be so stupid?


  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Netanyahu Demands to go to War with our Sons! "Secure America Now" ran by Republican Strategists have invested 1/2 Million to get the Jewish Vote in Miami- Fort Meyers & West Palm. Well connected Insider: Isralies say: "His insolence is putting their partnership at risk with U S." A Vote for Romney is a Vote for War. Iran said it best "If we had 2 Atomic Bombs 20,000 Missiles are pointing at us!

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    If Netanyahu wants to bomb Iran, he is welcome to do so. But don't try and bounce the US into becoming an accomplice. Netanyahu can fight his own wars. We don't believe that Netanyahu's interests are our interests.

  • Comment number 90.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    ref #64
    Sanctions work ask FW De Klerk
    De Klerk did not have a nuclear bomb, never attacked neighboring countries and although a racist was not willing to die to kill every non white on the planet

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    All this hypothesis about iran getting nukes and DE-stabilizing the mid east is farcical and hides the real truth that israel does have nukes and is destabilizing the mid east, like a lot of the posters here they hide their arrogance behind rabid rhetoric, israel is definitely using the us election to do some war mongering, simple fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    18.Party In The Slum
    "16 Why are you not referring to European Colonialism." Well, Colonialism did not affect the Middle East until the late 19th century. Up till then the Muslim Ottoman Turks held the region since the 1490s. It was the rise of the radical extremist views of the Wahhabis and WWI which led to the Ottoman Turks collapse and the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    At some time, the American people need to decide, once and for all, who is the dog and who is is the tail in the USA-Israel relationship. A second term Obama could lead the country to such a decision.


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