Four days ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the United States Congress and many are still questioning whether it is worth the trouble it has created. On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said to Congress there should be no question as the commitment the U.S. has made in supporting the Israeli State. He said this as he held a 24-page packet detailing these actions in support this claim. One of the primary issues that will be addressed in Netanyahu’s speech to Congress will be the nuclear agreement that is being developed between the U.S. and Iran, which he has criticized.
Netanyahu has refused invitations to the White House to speak with President Barack Obama out of frustration with the administration’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program. Congressman Gerald Connolly called this move by the Israeli Prime Minister “shameful” when questioning Kerry on what he thought of Netanyahu’s criticisms of the Presidents foreign policy. Kerry responded to the Congressman’s question by explaining that he will not “prejudge his statement” to Congress just as Netanyahu should not “prejudge this agreement.” Here Kerry was referring to the nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran.
Kerry continued, however, to state that the last time Netanyahu visited Congress to give a Speech on U.S. foreign policy was when the U.S. was exploring the decision to invade Iraq. Netanyahu at that time strongly urge the invasion, which Kerry opined was a poor choice and evidence that perhaps his advice on U.S. foreign policy should not be entertained.
It is a concern that this trip to Congress by Netanyahu is mostly a strategic move to gain votes prior to the election in Israel. With the controversy that has erupted surrounding the visit the White House has decided to begin restricting information it provides to the Israeli State pertaining to Iran and the nuclear agreement that is being negotiated. This is being done out for fear of what the information will be used for. There is concern that details could be used by Netanyahu to gain votes in Israel as well as the potential for future potential military action.
Israel is not without reason for its hesitation in allowing Iran to acquire a stable nuclear program. Monday Israel’s United Nations ambassador Ron Prosor commented that if a nation could win an Oscar for best actor the award would go to Iran. In the past they have denied the holocaust even happened, they have threatened to destroy neighboring states and now they are trying to develop nuclear weapons while acting like a “peace-loving” nation.
Netanyahu does not seem to waver in his opinion of the situation. He has explained in the past that Iran has expressed that they would attack Israel and he does not intend to allow that option to become a reality.
Netanyahu has received advice from many not to attend his planed speech with Congress. Even his fellow opposition Labor Party leader in Israel has contended that this speech to Congress could cause “strategic damage” with one of Israel’s most powerful allies. As the date of the speech moves closer it will be interesting to obverse if Netanyahu follows through with his visit to Congress that has gained him so much negative press.
By Joel Wickwire