A recent editorial in USA Today is getting a good bit of coverage in the Israeli press. It suggests that no good lies in store for either country in Benjamin Netanyahu's stunt appearance before the US Congress next month.
A backlash is underway in Israel, where a number of critics, including Netanyahu's former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, are worried that by politicizing the issue, Netanyahu and Boehner are jeopardizing long-standing bipartisan support for Israel. That's troubling, but the consequences for the U.S. are potentially worse.
When Netanyahu speaks on March 3, a pivotal deadline in the nuclear talks will be just three weeks away. While it's fair to worry about a bad deal, the time to judge is after a framework agreement is reached. To kill any deal in the crib, as Netanyahu and the most radical factions in Iran are eager to do, is to destroy the last, best chance for a peaceful outcome, because chances that Iran will capitulate and drop its program under pressure are zero.
By now, all Americans should be wary of leaping toward a new conflict in the region. But that is not the only reason Netanyahu's speech is a bad idea.
In a scant few days, Boehner's invitation — worked out with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who was once a Republican political operative — has politicized the U.S.-Israeli relationship in a new way, marked by political sniping in both countries. Last week, the Democratic minority leaders in Congress, both longtime supporters of Israel, politely cautioned Netanyahu that he is making a mistake.
Indeed. [Netanyahu] risks swapping an alliance between nations for an alliance between his Likud Party and the GOP.
Even if the ploy succeeds in torpedoing the arms negotiations, it would be a costly win, raising troubling questions about the degree of control Netanyahu has over decisions that could cost American lives.
There is no more sensitive task — or a more hazardous one — than trying to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran's hands. Throughout the talks, the six nations negotiating with Iran have shown remarkable unity.
It would be a shame if all that effort was lost because of political gamesmanship here or in Israel. Politics, as they used to say, should end at the water's edge.
Meanwhile, in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, columnist Bradley Burston is calling for the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer's head for engineering this stunt.