Over the past few weeks the Israeli Government has had at least three opportunities to change the atmospherics between Bibi and Obama and the Israelis have consistently failed to do so. Almost as if Bibi is engaged in a battle of wills with Obama he appears unwilling to give an inch in his red lines language debate—certainly not in public. Bibi wants to force the American president to utter his words about red lines with respect to Iran and Obama has said you do not put words in the mouth of the President particularly after I have said the exact same thing in my way.
It is now past time Bibi to back off. The longer Bibi persists in demanding that Obama use his words the more foolish he looks and the more damage he does to their personal relationship, not the U.S.-Israel relationship. Bibi can score points perhaps with his right wing Government but he will not succeed with the President.
Bibi had a natural chance after their one hour telephone call after the fuss over the announcement about the Obama-Netanyahu non-meeting at the U.N. During his several Sunday U.S. news programs two weeks ago Bibi had a second chance. Finally, today at the U.N., after both Obama and Mahmoud Abbas had spoken, Netanyahu could have indicated in his remarks that the U.S. and Israel were on the same page, even without the reiteration by Obama or Secretary Clinton of the words red lines.In fact, on Tuesday President Obama told the General Assembly as bluntly as he could where the U.S. stands on the question of Iran becoming a nuclear power:
So let me be clear. America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited….And make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
If Obama is re-elected, Bibi’s arrogance over the red lines language will not affect the U.S.-Israel relationship in the future, but it will unnecessarily have annoyed decision-makers throughout the Administration.