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Netanyahu betrays what's best for Israel

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Monday, 2 February 2015


Prime Minister Netanyahu has been more vocal than any of his predecessors about the 'looming Iranian danger,' insisting that any agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will amount to nothing more than a technical pause. He has been rallying members of Congress to impose additional crippling sanctions on Iran, hoping that the mounting economic pressure will precipitate a regime change, or at a minimum, force the current regime to abandon its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu has convinced himself that President Obama's 'eagerness' to strike a deal with Iran would leave Israel vulnerable, even though the President has forcefully and repeatedly made it clear that under no circumstances will he strike a deal that can remotely undermine Israel's national security.

Netanyahu, with wide Republican support in Congress, contends that notwithstanding Iran's change of tone, its apparent willingness to cooperate, and insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, Iran is a wolf in sheep's clothing determined to achieve its nuclear goal, however long that might take.

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Tehran has already secured two principle demands: enriching uranium on its soil and limiting any new agreement to a number of years. From Netanyahu's perspective, this is a recipe for disaster, as Iran would subsequently be free to pursue its nuclear weapon program.

Netanyahu maintains that even though Khamenei has repeatedly stated that he is against the building of nuclear weapons, Khamenei distinguishes between the possession of nuclear weapons and having the technology and materials to assemble one in short order, which amounts to the same thing.

The problem here is that Netanyahu does not believe that President Obama will demand an airtight longer-term agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Even though the US has kept Israel informed about the substance of the negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu spared no efforts to rally Congress to legislate a new set of sanctions that could only derail the negotiations.

Netanyahu's acceptance of the invitation by House Speaker Boehner to address a joint session of Congress to rebut President Obama's Iran strategy is misguided and terribly damaging to US and Israeli strategic interests.

For Netanyahu to ignore protocol and notify the White House only after he accepted the invitation and refused to rescind it, is a slap in the face of the President who has done more than any of his predecessors to safeguard Israel's security.

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Netanyahu has ignored every appeal from the media, leaders of Jewish organizations, Israel's European friends, and many others to cancel his trip, if for no other reason but for Israel's sake.

To be sure, Netanyahu has disgraced Israel and undermined its crucial relations with the most important ally that stood by it, rain or shine, and remains its ultimate defender.

Being that the US has and continues to be the ultimate guarantor of Israel's national security, it defies logic that the US would allow any loopholes in a new long-term agreement that would in any way endanger Israel at a later date.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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