The Obama administration can’t take the heat. Stung by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction to the so-called “deal” made with Iran, President Obama has asked the Israeli leader to “take a breather from his clamorous criticism,” according to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.
Netanyahu’s anger is justified. Despite the ostensible reality that Israel is America’s staunchest Middle East ally, the Obama administration was engaged in six months of secret, high-level talks with Israel’s foremost enemy. Obama informed Netanyahu of this reality on September 30. And while he seemingly took Obama’s announcement in stride, a day later the Israeli Prime Minister delivered a blistering speech to the UN General Assembly, calling Iranian President Hasan Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” looking to exploit this latest diplomatic effort to advance his nation’s nuclear weapons agenda. He also made it clear where his nation stood on the issue. “I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons,” he insisted. “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”
In the following weeks, there was no let up by Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, and on November 24 Obama phoned the Prime Minister in an effort assuage his concerns. The two leaders agreed to have an Israeli delegation, headed by National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, ensconced in Washington, D.C. to iron out a deal that keeps Israel in the loop going forward. Obama also assured Netanyahu the both nations were on the same page with regard Iranian policy goals. It was during that phone call that Obama reportedly asked Netanyahu to tone down his rhetoric.
By last Thursday, it became apparent that while Netanyahu might shift his criticism away from the deal itself, he was not about to keep quiet. “The largest darkness that threatens the world today is a nuclear Iran,” the Times of Israel quoted Netanyahu as saying. “We are bound to do all we can to prevent this darkness. If possible, we will do this diplomatically. If not, we will act as a light unto the nations.”