Netanyahu's speech endangers N talks

The speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint sitting of the US Congress on March 3 exhorting the Obama administration to back off from signing a nuclear deal with Iran is not a surprise given Netanyahu’s reputation as a hardliner.

What, however, was surprising was his move to go all the way to Washington and deliver what was almost a homily to US President Barack Obama on what he considered were dangers in steering an agreement with Tehran.  Netanyahu’s address was nothing short of an insult to Obama and his team of officials who have led the multinational talks to convince Iran to scale down its nuclear programme, open its facilities to international inspections and limit its uranium enrichment facilities.
The Iranian government has until now played along and if an agreement is indeed signed, it will be considered a great achievement by the Obama administration as it signs off after its final term in office.

The nuclear agreement with Iran has the potential to bring down at least one key area of tension in West Asia. What is also questionable about Netanyahu’s speech is the fact that it comes in the run-up to the general elections in Israel on March 17.

Netanyahu could have had his constituency back home in mind when he made the speech. He is reported to be facing a tough fight and his address to Congress could have been part of calculations to turn the tide in his favour. 

The Israeli prime minister appears to have staked quite a bit on delivering the address as it would have spoilt his relationship with the Obama administration. In fact, many Democrats did not attend the speech as they did not appreciate the topic of the address.

Obama’s officials too later brushed aside Netanyahu’s demand for scrapping the talks with Iran indicating that the Israeli premier was not welcome to make such a suggestion.
The underlying message of Netanyahu’s visit to the US, his anti-Iran address to Congress and the reception he received among Congressmen, particularly Republicans, however show the extent of Israeli influence on US politics and its ability to impact outcomes in West Asia. This is the danger and the unfortunate takeaway for the rest of the world which has been thirsting for lasting peace in that region. 

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