With the U.S. presidential election just eight weeks away, the actions of the Israeli prime minister are reaching a point at which they appear to be a transparent effort to determine the outcome. This should be no surprise coming from a man who has long been of the opinion that America is easy to push around. Still, Israeli officials are already starting to express fears about the payback that may well follow Obama’s re-election. Next time Israel expects American defense at the U.N., the veto that it has so often counted on might be unavailable.
But even before then, there might soon come a tipping point at which the Obama campaign needs to signal rather bluntly that it’s time for Netanyahu to back off. If the appearance of the Israeli government trying to choose the next U.S. president were to become part of the campaign debate, Israel would be cast in a new and negative light for many Americans. And Mitt Romney, rather than being able to rely on standard expressions of slavish devotion to Israel, might find himself in the much more awkward position of needing to explain why he accepts support from a foreign entity.
Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday that “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
Netanyahu seems to be having a hard time keeping a lid on his temper these days. But the White House may also be losing patience with Netanyahu. A few hours after Netanyahu’s rant, the White House declined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to meet with Obama during a UN conference in New York in late September. A White House official said that Obama’s schedule does not allow for a meeting during the two and a half days Netanyahu will be in the United States. Ravid considers the White House’s response as marking “a new low in relations between Netanyahu and Obama, underscored by the fact that this is the first time Netanyahu will visit the US as prime minister without meeting the president.”
From another perspective Bradley Burston points out:
…it’s not every day that the prime minister of an Israel whose very security depends on close cooperation with the White House, appears to work angles to try to see an incumbent president defeated – for example, announcing just at the climax of the Republican convention his intention to go to the UN to tell the world of the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program.
Only, in the case of Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff, it has been literally every day.
On August 14, the Israeli news daily Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu had given Obama a deadline of September 25 to announce to the world that the US would be taking military action against Iran’s nuclear program. Israel would agree to defer a military attack on Iran if Obama publicly declared — at the UN General Assembly or any other public venue of his choosing — that the US will launch a war on Iran as soon as the US election results are in. No further elaboration — or corroboration — of the Sept. 25 “deadline”, which coincides with the eve of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, has since appeared in Israeli or US press. [Continue reading…]