Bibi's Costly Feud
No issue is more critical for Israel right now than the nuclear agreement with Iran, yet Benjamin Netanyahu has squandered any influence he may have had in shaping the administration's positions by mounting a full frontal assault on the integrity and intentions of the American president and by colluding with a GOP leadership determined to use the issue as one more weapon in their anti-Obama campaign.
Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid and a former Netanyahu coalition partner, said the PM's strident rhetoric and confrontational rather than cooperative strategy on the Iran issue has cost Israel influence in the negotiations.
"His approach led us to a situation in which the American administration isn’t willing to listen to our positions. His approach led not only the United States but also the other five powers involved in the negotiations…not to take into account Israel’s concerns over the deal, concerns which are right and justified."
In the view of Ha'aretz columnist Chemi Shalev, Netanyahu "concurs with [former Ambassador Michael] Oren’s diagnosis of Obama’s inherent malevolence towards Israel."
Netanyahu's "core conviction," shared by "right wing Republican circles of American Jewry," he wrote, is
"Obama isn’t pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran or advancing a two-state solution with the Palestinians simply because he believes that these are American interests: He is doing so in order to intentionally and willfully harm Israel."
Michael Kapilow of the Israel Institute, writes in Politico:
"The shortsighted, take-no-prisoners stance of the Israeli government has guaranteed that its concerns got shorter shrift than was absolutely necessary."
Netanyahu's "damaged his own cause" with maximalist demands that were "unrealistic," and he "ended up marginalizing Israel and creat[ing] a situation in which the American negotiating team became even more indifferent to Israeli interests."
This unrealistic approach and blind animus toward the American president are proving very costly for Israel because Netanyahu has robbed the Jewish state of a voice and influence in these negotiations and, in fact, the broad formulation of American Middle East policy on his watch.
Israel deserves better.