For those readers who have become avid fans of the soap opera unfolding in the White House around the drama between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a tidbit just for you.
On Friday, as the White House press corps was engaged in its usual back-and-forth with spokesperson Josh Earnest, they finally managed to force a truth from his lips: The President and the Prime Minister, he said, have a “fundamental disagreement” about diplomatic talks with Iran.
Netanyahu “doesn’t share [Obama's] view,” Earnest admitted. But still, he claimed, those “differences of opinion” don’t undermine the “unshakable” American commitment to Israel’s security.
On America’s terms, of course. And if it happens to prove mistaken and an existential threat to the Jewish State, which is about the size of New Jersey, well. . .
As it happens, most members of Congress also have a “fundamental disagreement” with the President about the diplomatic talks with Iran, it seems. Not just the Republicans, who comprise the majority in both houses, but there are a fair number of Democrats who also believe Iran is using the talks simply to gain more time for its covert nuclear development activities.
And Iranians have long made it clear both in the street and in their mosques that their targets will not be limited to Israel; America is in the cross-hairs as well. Members of the intelligence community are well aware of it, as are members of Congress and the Israeli government.
So as early as last October, U.S. Rep. John Boehner was talking to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer about inviting Netanyahu to address the Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat. The formal invitation was made public last week – and accepted as well – to the apparent “surprise” of the White House.
It’s a bit hard to believe that any of The President’s Men – or Women – could be caught off guard. But let’s leave that bit for quiet contemplation.
It turns out the annual AIPAC conference is being held in March this year – a “must” for every Israeli head of state, and Netanyahu is no exception. The address to Congress made much more sense scheduled around AIPAC, and was penciled in for the same week.
Utter fury at the White House. Sarcastic remarks from press secretary Josh Earnest, with a reference to the Speaker of the House making a “departure from protocol.” On the Prime Minister’s visit, Earnest was altogether tight-lipped, saying his boss was “reserving judgment.”
Later reporters were told that neither Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry would meet with Israel’s head of state while he is in Washington for both events.
Imagine. One of America’s “closest allies” comes to the capital and neither the President nor the Secretary of State makes time to meet with him, when the United States shares military, intelligence, economy, academic and who knows how many other priorities with Israel.
Not to mention their “differences of opinion” that are so important to work out – something that one would believe an administration so committed to the process of “diplomacy” would consider a priority.
The White House spokesperson tried to put a good face on it.
“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” he explained Thursday.