In the last few days PM Netanyahu’s scheduled speech before the US Congress as orchestrated by Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, a former chief Netanyahu aid and arguably the most political foreign diplomat from Israel we may ever have seen, has inspired a huge negative reaction both in Israel and the United States.
Only British Prime Minister Winston Churchill has spoken three times before the US Congress, and with this planned Netanyahu speech in February, Bibi will tie that record.
This is also the first time any foreign leader has been invited to speak to the US Congress by anyone other than the President of the United States, thus violating established protocol.
That this speech and invitation of the Israeli Prime Minister comes when it does only one month before arguably the most important election in Israeli history that could determine Israel’s Jewish character, democracy and international standing, smacks of inappropriate intrusion of the US Congress into Israeli elections.
President Obama and Secretary Kerry have avoided even the appearance of support for one Israeli political party over another. Speaker Boehner, on the other hand, seems to have no hesitation in doing just that.
This bald-face effort by Speaker Boehner and Republican leaders to disrupt the foreign policy efforts of the Obama Administration at this particularly sensitive time in Iran-US nuclear negotiations suggests as well that despite the new Republican majority in both houses of Congress, that the Republicans and some Democrats have failed to build a veto proof majority to pass a sanctions resolution that President Obama and many others in the foreign policy establishment of the United States oppose at this time, and so the Republican majority has invited a foreign leader to come and do its bidding for them.
PM Netanyahu has always enjoyed a special relationship with Republican leaders, almost as though he is acting as a kind of Republican Senator from Jerusalem, and has used that relationship before to intrude in the last US Presidential election by favoring Republican nominee Mitt Romney. This February speech before Congress will constitute one more slap in the face of the President of the United States by the Israeli leader thus giving support to the argument that Israel can no longer afford to have another government led by this man.
The Herzog-Livni Zionist Party campaign is pointing in this election campaign to the economic weaknesses of the Israeli middle class and the growing poverty in Israel that was caused by Netanyahu’s economic policies when he served as the Economic Minster under PM Ariel Sharon, the need for new leadership in making this time a good-faith effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the need to stop the escalating spiral of international hostility towards Israel. The Herzog-Livni campaign has stated that in matters of the Israeli economy, Israel’s security and Israel’s international standing, the Netanyahu government has failed in every area.
Is it any wonder in Israel that so many Israelis now are saying “Anyone but Bibi!?”