To Bibi or not to Bibi

Posted February 25th, 2015 at 1:08 pm (UTC-4)
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Benjamin Netanyahu
How did we get here?
The Prime Minister of Israel accepting an invitation from the Speaker of the House and … all the sudden he’s, “spit in the face” of the US President?
That’s not me saying it – read the papers … we’ve crossed into a new era of US-Israeli relations.
Maybe the shift is subtle, maybe it is something that will not manifest itself in geopolitics for years, but make no mistake: there has been a shift.
For years, the President of the United States was trusted by Israel (and its officials) to represent the interests of Israel in any negotiations with foreign nations. Not much of an issue frankly, as more often than not the two have been intertwined. Which brings us to the real question about the United States negotiations with Iran; are the interests of the United States one in the same with Israel?
According to people like Lara Friedman from “American’s for Peace Now” – they are. But unfortunately, as she said on our show Tuesday, no one is really talking about that – people are talking about the leaders of these two nations.
For people like Ronan Bergman (a long time expert on Israeli military intelligence and foreign affairs) things are indeed about the personalities. “As long as Netenyahu is in power in Israel we are going to witness a further deterioration of the relations between the two countries”.
Waking up the morning after the show (see the full link below) I wondered – are we all making too much of this? It is election season in Israel – a national time honored blood sport – isn’t it possible all of this is a storm in a teacup?
Benjamin Netanyahu
Wait, none of my interns have ever heard that saying – so, is it much ado about nothing?
Not according to Susan Rice (President Obama’s national security advisor) who told PBS’s Charlie Rose, “What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of invitation that was issued by the Speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanahu two weeks in advance of his election, is that both sides – there has now been inject a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
When the National Security Advisor of the United States uses the words, “destructive of the fabric of the relationship” you know things are serious.
The Israeli Prime Minister, regardless of his initial assessment of the visit – whatever that was … now finds himself in a situation worse than a no-win situation. If he comes to Washington DC he will only further alienate an already strained relation with the US President. If he does not come, he potentially makes his position in Israel weaker headed into the elections.
In what has been a brutal winter here on the east coast, surly one of these snow storms can provide something positive … maybe a snow storm could prevent the relationship between Israel and the US from continuing to spiral, because less than a week away from the planned speech – it doesn’t seem like anything else can.
Cal Perry
Cal Perry is an TV executive and host of the show "Hashtag" at the Voice of America. Prior to joining VOA in 2012 Cal was the Middle East correspondent for Al Jazeera English. Cal began his career at CNN where he served as Baghdad Bureau chief and as an International correspondent around the globe.

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