Secretary of State John Kerry contradicted National Security Adviser Susan Rice by saying that Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "welcome to speak in the United States" and by saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship is at an historic high. Kerry made the comments this morning on ABC:
"Let's move back then to Israel and Iran," said the ABC host. "You're headed over for further negotiations. While you're gone, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be addressing Congress. Susan Rice said it was destrictive to U.S.-Israeli relations. Do you agree?"
"Well, look," Kerry said, "the prime minister of Israel is welcome to speak in the United States, obviously, and we have a closer relationship with Israel right now in terms of security than at any time in history. I was reviewing the record the other day: we have intervened on Israel's behalf in the last two years more than a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora in order to protect israel. I talked to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday. We don't want to see this turned into some great political football. Obviously, it was odd if not unique that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that the administration was not included in the process. But the administration is not seeking to politicize this."
Barack Obama wants us all to simmer down about Iran. He wants Senator Bob Menendez, a fellow Democrat, and the donors he represents to butt out of the sanctions debate. He wants Republicans to quit crying wolf about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He wants the media to stop hyping terror threats. He wants the American people in the dark about the secret correspondence he’s had for years with Iran’s supreme leader. He wants John Boehner to be mindful of protocol.
Sometimes a speech is just a speech. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech about Iran policy on March 3 will not be his first address to Congress. It will make familiar, if important, arguments. One might assume that, like the vast majority of speeches, it would soon be overtaken by events in Israel and the United States and the world.
The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.
MNSBC's Morning Joe reported this morning that President Bill Clinton hosted an Israeli prime minister, Shimon Peres, in his election against Benjamin Netanyahu. President Obama is refusing to meet with Netanyahu next week because, he says, it's too close to Israel's election day.
Last week, outgoing chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces Benny Gantz told an American audience that it’s important the international community defeat both camps of regional extremists. The way Gantz sees it, on one side there are Sunni radicals, like the Islamic State, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate. On the Shiite side are Iran and the Revolutionary Guards expeditionary unit, the Quds Force, as well as Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias.
More than three-quarters of likely voters say negotiations with Iran should have the goal of stopping the regime in Tehran from ever getting nuclear weapons capability. According to a new poll from Republican pollster John McLaughlin, likely voters were asked about the United States's current "secret negotiations" with Iran.
Georgia's new Republican senator David Perdue took his first foreign trip as a member of Congress to Israel. Perdue, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, met with Benjamin Netanyahu and appeared in a video statement with the Israeli prime minister. The Republican said he made his first trip as a sitting senator to Israel to make a statement about his personal support for the Jewish state, and thanked Netanyahu for his "hospitality."
Around 20 Democratic members of the Virginia house of delegates twice fled the chamber in Richmond earlier this month during a vote on a resolution supporting the state of Israel. The video below shows the house holding its vote on February 5. The resolution passed 70 to 2, despite there being 100 delegates seated. A few moments later, Republican member Jackson Miller asks for a second vote to be held on the resolution.
Benjamin Netanyahu is not the first Israeli prime minister to find himself at odds with Washington. In fact, several prime ministers from the Labor Party, Netanyahu's traditional rival, have suffered the wrath of an angry American president.