By condemning nuclear deal, Netanyahu prioritizes his own personal fortune

April 9, 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledges applause at the end of his speech to joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) acknowledges applause at the end of his speech to a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Like a latter-day political Houdini, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tied himself into a straitjacket, his fate inextricably tied to that of his lifelong archenemy, Iran.

Netanyahu has devoted the better part of his long public career to sounding the warning about the dangers posed by Iran. He has been assisted in this task by the Islamic government in Tehran, which for decades has embarked on a path that includes support for international terror, assassination plots, repeated threats to Israel’s existence and, yes, a hidden nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s efforts were not for naught. Europe’s and the United States’ engagement with Iran and the framework nuclear agreement announced last week is by almost every measure the result of Netanyahu’s assiduous insistence on this subject.

But no, he is not taking a victory lap.

He has instead set the Israeli government on a path of continued confrontation with the United States that President Barack Obama now seems eager to take on.

I’m trying to kill a bad deal,” Netanyahu said over the weekend in his appearances on three U.S. Sunday morning news shows.

What I would say to the Israeli people,” Obama responded, in his own Easter weekend media blitz, “is … that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon that will be more effective than the diplomatic initiative and framework that we put forward — and that’s demonstrable.”

As if in an afterthought, Netanyahu dispatched his minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, the hard-line Yuval Steinitz, to issue a list of Israeli demands that, if accepted, would make the deal “more reasonable.” The amendments appear to be a restatement of clarifications and critiques put forward by skeptics.

In one of the greatest ironies of the moment, Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based paramilitary group armed and financed by Iran, announced its enthusiastic support for the deal. Hassan Nasrallah, its leader, told the Syrian news channel al-Ikhbariya TV that “there is no doubt the Iranian nuclear deal will be big and important to the region … God willing.” The agreement “rules out the specter of regional war and world war” that would result from an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, he added.

How has Netanyahu, long considered a deft operator on the international stage, found himself opposing his nation’s No. 1 ally at the very moment he achieved one of his life’s great goals: obstructing the threat of a nuclear bomb aimed at Tel Aviv?

He did it by abandoning the Israeli national interest he has championed in favor of his private political fortunes.

Instead of waiting for a deal to be announced, he scheduled a March address to Congress two weeks before Israel’s national election and coarsely snubbed Obama. That move laid bare his only real interest — “to use Congress as a studio for his political ads.” (Actual campaign ads, including clips from his speech to Congress, ran shortly after the address.)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDmN6itHfOc[/youtube]

Netanyahu repeated the same points he’s been making for years and offered no new alternative to a nuclear deal that at that point did not yet exist. And then, Netanyahu’s poll numbers dipped.

It didn’t have to be that way. A principal reason for the wide-ranging international reaction that the Iran deal looks “better than expected ” is that the public believed Netanyahu’s admonitions about how bad it was going to be.

Netanyahu has now made himself superfluous to the talks — and all but invited Obama’s growing antagonism.

Writing in the daily Yedioth Acharonoth, Israel’s former consul in New York, Alon Pinkas, says “the ‘Israelization’ Netanyahu has brought to the issue of Iran in recent years has led to an open and toxic conflict with the United States that does not serve a single Israeli interest.”

Instead, the prime minister of Israel finds himself in an odd, dark place. He has in front of him the offer of a deal that is close to what he has always asked for. That said, he seems to have lost the ability to say anything but “no way.”

 

 

 

 

22 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

“which for decades has embarked on a path that includes support for international terror, assassination plots, repeated threats to Israel’s existence and, yes, a hidden nuclear program.” All of the last 6 US presidents have done all of the above except threatening Israel’s existence. There is no “Israel”, there is occupied Palestine.

Posted by LetBalanceCome | Report as abusive

It was perfectly obvious from the start that Netanyahu used the strong pro-Israel lobby to force the speaker Mr. Boehner to issue the
“invitation” behind Obama’s back. The speaker was overheard telling his aides “Don’t tell Obama” which is a clear violation of the US Constitution. Only the President may invite foreign leaders.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

It was perfectly obvious from the start that Netanyahu used the strong pro-Israel lobby to force the speaker Mr. Boehner to issue the
“invitation” behind Obama’s back. The speaker was overheard telling his aides “Don’t tell Obama” which is a clear violation of the US Constitution. Only the President may invite foreign leaders.

Posted by pbgd | Report as abusive

BiBi needs to take two aspirins and throw himself off a very high bridge.

Posted by Fritzzler | Report as abusive

It’s funny how the author describes obama when writing about Netanyahu. Almost as if she mixed the two up in her mind.

Posted by chaemeleo | Report as abusive

Iran’s leaders have openly stated their desire to destroy Israel. Only naïve (mostly leftist) politicians bent on being lauded by equally naïve journalists like the author believe this “agreement” will do anything to change Iranian leaders’ stripes. First and foremost there is no “agreement”! There are only empty words. Iran will continue to do what they have always done: play Western politicians like fiddles.

Posted by beofaction | Report as abusive

We will see a number of Bibi Nosferatu attempts to derail this deal. He has too much invested in keeping the status quo and needs more excuses to continue occupying Palestinian lands with more settlements.

He has built his career this way.

Posted by gnfsh | Report as abusive

beofaction,

Listening to Iranian rhetoric is about as useful as listening to Tea-Bagger rhetoric – that is not very useful at all.

That is completely aside from the issues currently being discussed. You only embarrass yourself by professing your own ignorance on the issue. The agreement will work for both sides, and if the agreement is violated, sanctions (the things Iranians are trying to eliminate as they are apparently ‘playing us’ in your mind) will be put back into place.

Posted by pyradius | Report as abusive

Number of Israeli soldiers who served in Iraq: 0

Number of Israeli soldiers who served in Afghanistan: 0

Number of Israeli soldiers deployed to fight ISIS: 0

Number of times per year Netanyahu complains that America does not do enough for him: 438

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Hard to tell if Netanyahu is simply grandstanding out of personal pique, posturing for the GOP nomination to become president of the United States (foreign born? not to worry, the Repubs now run Congress and they can ram through an exception), or genuinely interested in the security of the Israeli people. Plenty of sane voices in Israel see Netanyahu as the problem rather than the solution to their most urgent concerns (such as the Israeli economy). His waffling back and forth as to whether he supports the two-state solution is particularly off putting. The Iranians in the street seem truly to want peace and integration into the international community. That’s a good thing, and Netanyahu has been standing in the way of that good thing.

John Patrick Grace
Huntington, West Virginia

Posted by publishersplace | Report as abusive

The crux of the matter is FEAR for both,more so of Iran because Israel already has nuclear weapons and possibly bomb.Unless US give protection to Iran like as given to Israel,all this deal for agreement is not going to be that effective to prevent conflict.Currently the issue of attack of Soudis on Yemen has added into complications…..and to fight ISIS,Iran only can help US and Iraq.They have already shown their strength to regain parts of Iraq from ISIS.As such Obama’s approach is the only solution in such scenario.
So far US has gone out of way to favor Israel but Natyahoo did not reciprocate with response for Two sate formula.It seems Natyahoo is digging his own tomb…….but one does not know to what extent he will go with Israel’s technology of war.

Posted by gentalman | Report as abusive

Non existence of Israel were emotional statement of previous president of Iran.He also said masecre of Jues by Hitler is a fake story,,,,,and he has to go because those were not the policy of Iran.Netanyahu is blowing out that for his own personal interest not as a policy matter of Israel.
Israel has Saudies as strong allys and he is harping on that fact that US can not displease Saudi Arabia.But Netanyahu must understand that Saudies are friendy to Israel only because of blind support of US to Israel…….but now US is No.one oil producer and will not submit to Soudies.Whole middle east region is against Israel and that’s why Obama seems to be driving towards how best the conflict of Shia and Sunnies can be encashed for US…..but Obama has very little time,unfortunately and there Netanyahoo has the goal.

Posted by gentalman | Report as abusive

Israeli soldiers not served iraq,afghan

Posted by yourzon.com | Report as abusive

Anyone who wants to really understand what Netanyahu is saying should really listen to his entire speech before Congress. It is readily available on You Tube-then you can draw your own conclusions. For me, I agree with Netanyahu’s position.

Posted by oracle123 | Report as abusive

I’m no Netanyahu fan, but he may just end up winning this thing. It seems entirely possible at the moment I write this that the Iranian Supreme Leader is pulling the most outrageous bad-faith stunt by pretending that we agreed to immediate and total sanctions relief right after Obama (on TV Sunday) made absolutely clear that we did not. (And why would we?) So Netanyahu’s whole argument that the Iranian leadership is completely impossible to trust rings a lot truer than even just a couple days ago. In fact, we suddenly have every reason to doubt there will be any deal at all. Given the obvious bad faith, or even just the perceived bad faith on the Iranian side, what kind of idiot wold go through with a massive nuclear deal? So, yeah, Netanyahu (like him personally or not) may just have ended up sending the right message. A deal with the Iranians may just but an impossible dream of a peace-loving president.

Posted by From_California | Report as abusive

Bibi grew up in the Garden City, West Newton,Ma…..The entire Iranian nuclear team also spent many years stateside….It’s an unusual conundrum arch enemies as Dual Citizen operatives from the U.S.A…..My advice to you would be forget the chosen in this equation; your real threat will be the alliance of the Soviet/Chinese/Syrian/Iranian regime and most importantly Soviet advanced systems only available to china through her cooperation with Iran….systems are in place…..but you knew that!

Posted by DJSanDiego | Report as abusive

It’s incredible that people analyze the words of a pathological liar. Even Mossad disagrees with his assessments of Iran’s capabilities, behavior, and current intentions.

Posted by SigmaTheta | Report as abusive

It’s about time that Netenyau recognizes that he is no David. Not a Moses either.

Posted by worldscan | Report as abusive

Anyone in Congress who acts on behalf of Israel to the detriment of peace and prosperity, and the best interests of the United States should be called out for treason. Netanyahu has the right to say what he likes – no matter how much we may disagree. But Congress – they took an oath to support and defend the United States… and if the Right (and any others paid off by Adelson or AIPAC) acts based on the interests of Israel – they should lose their jobs and be required to turn all campaign contributions back to the federal government.

Israel’s interests are not always ours. They are a friend, but we can agree to disagree on some issues, and should.

Posted by DeeToo | Report as abusive

DJ Sandiego writes: “Bibi grew up in the Garden City, West Newton,MA”

Incorrect. Netanyahu grew up in Israel, and in suburban Philly (Cheltenham). Did not grow up in Boston area at all.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Recipe for Dilution of an Alkaline state..Supplant the word; as in,”Hailed,”from a Dual citizen zip code….An address would violate Reuters policy…you must have one secret to tell? 02165

Posted by DJSanDiego | Report as abusive

DJSanDiego, I apologize if I hurt your feelings in some way. Just correcting a historical inaccuracy in your previous post. Not a big thing.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive