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The Boehner/Netanyahu Game Goes On
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The Boehner/Netanyahu Game Goes On

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The fallout from the Boehner/Netanyahu decision to have The Israeli Prime Minister address a joint session of Congress is still not over. In fact it may get worse. Wise people in the U.S. and Israel now recognize the total foolishness of this entire gambit. Sadly, the one matter which perhaps it should have had influence—Iranian sanctions– not only appears to have failed from Israel’s perspective but also may have heightened the potential existential danger for Israel.

There are actions which Bibi could take to settle some of the political carnage, but that would require statesmanship, diplomatic courage, and political self-confidence; none of which Netanyahu has demonstrated.  He also needs to be willing to swallow the fact that these actions certainly will alienate Sheldon Adelson as well as some his other right wing financial supporters.

Netanyahu could do the following:

  • Bibi needs to find a way to cancel or, at least postpone the speech until after the March 17 Israeli elections. Unfortunately, baring a dramatic turnabout, the only way the Prime Minister can save face with such a reversal would be if there was a national security crisis at home which demanded that he cancel his trip.
  • Bibi cannot dismiss, now in the heat of the political fight, the misguided political Rasputin behind the speech—Ambassador Ron Dermer. Netanyahu needs to make clear to the Obama Administration, however, that should he be re-elected, Dermer will be gone before the summer is over.   
  • Bibi must extend an invitation to Abbas and Kerry—separately or together—to come to Jerusalem to resume peace discussions.
  • Bibi needs to immediately cease any more provocative, unnecessary settlement activity on the West Bank.
  • Bibi should find a way to publically assist the Egyptian Government in its efforts to control the growing activity of Islamic radicals in the Sinai Desert.
  • Bibi should reach out to the President by working through the Democratic leadership in Congress as well as through its Jewish Members and Democratic Jewish donors.
  • Bibi needs to send a private high level secret analysis of his considerate sense of how dangerous the current state of P5 +1 negotiations with Iran have become; it being already understood that Israel undoubtedly already has shared its analysis with the highest levels of the U.S. security team.

Assuming that Netanyahu can develop a strategy to move ahead with this type of turnaround; and assuming he does lead the next Israeli Government; then he might have restored enough good will with the Obama Administration that they will be prepared to resume their frosty relationship until the end of 2016. The political realities for Netanyahu at home are such that such moves may well devastate his political base with insufficient gains to achieved in the political center.

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