Boehner and Netanyahu’s attempt to undermine Obama concerning the Iran negotiations


On top of the extremely sensitive official negotiations with Iran, internal U.S. political forces have broken up and the Israeli Prime Minister has become involved to make the nuclear issue with Iran even more complex.

President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office in October 1, 2014  (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office in October 1, 2014 (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

On January 21, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner announced that he invited the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of the Congress on March 3 that will deal with nuclear negotiations with Iran. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran affirms that its nuclear program is only to produce energy for civilian use. Iran and the U.S. try to find a final deal by June 2015 in order to prevent that this nuclear issue results in a war. Indeed, Obama at a joint press conference with David Cameron at the White House on January 16 declared: “if this diplomatic solution fails, then the risks and likelihood that this ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened”.

Obama, in his State of the Union’s speech declared that “New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails […] That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress”. At the contrary, Netanyahu supports the Republican’s proposal to put sanctions on Iran. Obama has often disagreed with Netanyahu concerning Iran and Netanyahu will once again attempt to undermine the American President. In May 2011 he publicly criticized Obama during a speech to the Congress, also organized by the Republicans. Furthermore, Netanyahu supports the Republican candidates against Obama, such as during the 2012 elections when he supported Mitt Romney. He will probably also support the Republicans during the presidential elections in 2016.

Netanyahu will not meet the President during his visit because the White House refuses to receive foreign leaders before their elections and Netanyahu’s visit is only two weeks before Israeli’s legislative election. Netanyahu’s speech in front of the Congress may be perceived as an election speech. According to the Guardian, Netanyahu told his cabinet: “As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weaponry that will be aimed at the state of Israel.” However, it is also a very risky political strategy for the Prime Minister because it could damage Israel’s relationship with the U.S. that is Israel’s most important ally and it can finally lead to an opposite result for his elections.

Boehner invited Netanyahu without informing the Obama administration. It represents a breach of protocol since the foreign policy is supposed to be made only by the President and not by the Congress. Indeed, it would mean that there are two US foreign policies and it would be extremely confusing for foreign States which could misunderstand which of the two institutions is actually making the foreign policy. Moreover, a U.S. political party siding with a foreign country over its own President denotes a major break-up with the usual approach of the international relations.

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