Bibi’s Temper Tantrum

Nov 8 2013 @ 12:04pm

Netanyahu is pissed about the developing Iran-US deal (NYT):

Kilgore reacts:

The likelihood of a deal is underlined by Bibi Netanyahu’s immediate attack on it. Israel’s policy, of course, is that sanctions need to remain in place until Iran’s nuclear capability is eliminated, a position which treats halts in the nuclear program as largely irrelevant.

Those in the U.S., including most of the Republican Party, who take a similar position won’t greet a deal positively, and in any event, many GOP foreign policy hawks don’t support any activity towards Iran unless it’s aimed at regime change.

But for the rest of us, it’s a positive step.

Jeffrey Goldberg considers why Netanyahu is being largely ignored:

The first reason is that U.S. President Barack Obama has him boxed in. Netanyahu can’t launch a unilateral strike on Iran now that the U.S. is actively negotiating with its leaders. That would just be outre. So Netanyahu is in a time-out of sorts — and therefore semi-marginalized.

The second reason is one Netanyahu, so far at least, has refused to comprehend. His unwillingness to permanently freeze settlement growth on the West Bank, to make the sort of grand gesture toward the Palestinians that would advance the peace process, has caused even those in Washington and Europe who are sympathetic to his stance on Iran to write him off as generally immovable and irrational.

Amen, Jeffrey. I’d add another thing. If Iran agrees to freeze its nuclear program for six months (see correction below), as a bigger, more comprehensive deal is negotiated, then Iran looks like a much more reasonable party in global negotiations than Israel. After all, Israel was asked at the outset of Obama’s term to agree to a very similar deal: freeze settlement construction for six months, while negotiating with the Palestinians on a broader agreement. Netanyahu refused and has continued his settlement policy to the fury of the Palestinians and profound frustration of America and anger in Europe. He’s less flexible than Rouhani.

Similarly, if Iran eventually agrees to have rigorous inspections to ensure its nuclear program is civilian alone, and if the amazing progress made to destroy Syria’s WMDs continues, then Israel will be even more isolated. It will be the only power in the Middle East with nuclear bombs and chemical weapons. Netanyahu’s belligerence has only made his country more isolated than any decent Israeli PM would allow. If he insists on keeping those WMDs and forging the Greater Israel he dreams of, he will risk turning Israel into a rogue state, increasingly shunned by the West and by the next generation of American Jews. Heckuva job, Bibi!

There isn’t yet much blog reaction to the forthcoming deal (my post is forthcoming), but here’s some Twitter chatter:

The Guardian is live-blogging the negotiations.

(*Correction: this post originally said that Iran is not a signatory to the NPT. It is and has been since 1970. The exceptions are India, Pakistan and Israel. Apologies.)