To Stop Netanyahu From Addressing Congress, Obama Should Include Him In Negotiations With Iran

Wednesday’s anonymous griping by administration officials about Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer seemed calculated to one end — to keep the spat between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the headlines. And in the headlines it is, with everyone from Steve Forbes to the Qatar-funded Brookings Institution weighing in, and with the notoriously anti-Israel New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief yesterday speculating that “the result may be a virtual freeze in the relationship at the very top until after the 2016 American presidential vote.” The latest to jump into the fray is former House Speaker, current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who now says that House Democrats may boycott Netanyahu’s speech.

The person who really, really, really doesn’t like it, however, is President Barack Obama. So here’s a suggestion for him to stop Bibi from addressing Congress:  Just invite him into the P5+1 negotiations.

Prime Minister Netanyahu with President Obama

Prime Minister Netanyahu with President Obama

It’s not a highly contested point that a nuclear Iran poses a threat to Europe as well as to the US, and the Europeans and Americans have every right to attempt negotiations with Iran to thwart its progress towards becoming a nuclear power. But it is also inarguable that it is Israel that is on the front line, Israel that is most directly threatened. No one seriously questions that Israel has more at stake in these negotiations than any member of the P5+1. And yet, Israel is excluded from the very negotiations that so directly impact its fate.

Sitting on the sidelines, Israel’s Prime Minister has been trying, so far it seems, largely in vain, to give voice to his country’s interests. And a simple matter of a speech is drawing so much ire, with allegations that the Prime Minister is injecting himself into American politics, and becoming partisan. If Obama is truly convinced of Iran’s bona fides and good intentions, to obviate the need for such an angst-inducing speech, Obama should invite the Israeli Prime Minister to participate directly in the negotiations. There, he would be able to voice his country’s concerns directly.

Surely, if Khamenei and Rouhani are as willing and compliant as Obama makes them out to be, they would accede to such a request, right? In that case, Netanyahu would not need to rely on having his interests represented by a US President who has relentlessly tried to undermine him, a French President who can not even protect his own country’s Jews, and the Prime Minister of the UK, a country in which elected leaders stand in Parliament and say that Israelis “have no better nature.”  On an issue in which no country has a greater stake than Israel, its Prime Minister should have the right to represent his country’s interests by himself.

But if Obama is not prepared to give Netanyahu a seat at the negotiating table, if Obama insists that the US must represent the interests of the Israeli people in dealing with Israel’s most pressing existential threat, then he and his minions in Congress and in the press should at least have the courtesy to just STFU and let Netanyahu speak.



A Zionist in exile, Mirabelle has, in past lives, been a lawyer, a skier, and a chef. Outside of Israel, her favorite place in the world is Sun Valley, Idaho.

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