Bibi’s Bad Day

Some times, timing is everything

 

It’s no state secret that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers a nuclear-armed Iran an “existential threat” to the nation of Israel.

In a 2010 speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu unfolded a simple “visual aid.”

“This is a bomb,” he said, pointing to a drawing on a cardboard bi-fold.

“This is a fuse. In the case of Iran’s nuclear plan to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium.”

Netanyahu ends up a victim of his own machinations, as his opponents in Israel’s wildly fractious elections have used his planned D.C. speech against him.

Netanyahu then pulled a marker-pen from his jacket pocket and drew a red line close to the top of the bomb, insisting that that was where Iran’s military nuclear program had to stop.

“[A]bout the issue of the bomb, he is willing to go very far,” Netanyahu’s former national security advisor Yaakov Amidror told The New York Times today.

It now appears that he has gone too far, and that his timing is off.

As reported in this space on January 26, Netanyahu has accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of the Congress. The topic of the address was certainly going to be the Iranian bomb, and the multinational negotiations that President Obama is leading, which are aimed at preventing Tehran from building a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu accepted the invitation to address the Congress, aware that Boehner had not consulted the White House regarding the visit, and aware that Obama did not want him lobbying the U.S. senators regarding negotiations with Iran. In fact, Obama had called and told him so.

On January 12, Obama phoned and requested that Netanyahu lay off the Senate, where a bill intended to scuttle the president’s negotiations with Iran was moving quickly toward a floor vote.

(The bill was scheduled for hearing before the Senate Banking Committee today.)

Netanyahu’s decision to come to Washington, initially scheduled for February then moved to March 3, was a bridge too far for Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who seems as obsessed with stopping the negotiations as is Netanyahu, and who is the co-sponsor of the Senate’s Iran-sanctions bill.

This week, Menendez announced he is slowing the progress of his bill; it probably will not come to the floor until March—after Netanyahu addresses the Congress and probably after Israel’s election, which will be held on March 17.

Netanyahu ends up a victim of his own machinations, as his opponents in Israel’s wildly fractious elections have used his planned D.C. speech against him.

In the closing months of a close race, his opponents are reminding Israeli voters that while Netanyahu has already lost Obama, to alienate congressional Democrats is too great a risk.

What are the odds that he gracefully (okay, gracefully is unlikely for Bibi Netanyahu) declines?

And while Menendez is slowing the floor consideration of his “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, the Senate Banking Committee votes on it on Thursday.

—Lou Dubose
January 29, 2015


Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.