By: Hashim Arain
A couple weeks ago the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, came to Washington where he delivered a speech in front of the U.S. Congress. Netanyahu gave this speech in hopes of convincing Congress not to pass a future nuclear deal with Iran, which has been a source of controversy for Israel. According to CNN, Netanyahu told Congress that essentially Iran is dangerous, and it will be harmful to Israel’s security if they have nuclear weapons.
CNN also reports that the Obama Administration didn’t know that Netanyahu was coming to give the speech ahead of time, and quite a few Democrats were upset that this speech was taking place. This speech was politically motivated, and it was seen as trying to meddle in one of the main objectives in the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, which is to negotiate a nuclear weapons deal with Iran. It also created some damage to the US-Israel relationship.
According to the website The Hill, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress, and that 60 lawmakers skipped this speech just shows how the usually bipartisan consensus on Israel in Congress has shifted this time around. The Hill also reports that some lawmakers, who did attend the speech, were distraught by the contents of it, and how it was presented.
This speech by Netanyahu has reached a tipping point in the US-Israel relationship, particularly the diplomatic relationship between Netanyahu and President Obama. Those in the White House were upset that Netanyahu was coming unbeknownst to Obama and his team; this was seen as an insult to them. The International Business Times reports that this speech was given two weeks before elections in Israel, leading many to predict that this speech was politically motivated on Netanyahu’s part.
What Netanyahu did was that he was tampering in US foreign affairs, and that he was trying to stand in the way of a US diplomatic goal. I think that this speech undermined the influence of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy by having a foreign leader and supposed ally of the US, come and try to convince US lawmakers to block one of their main foreign policy goals. This is insulting to the Obama Administration as a whole, and is already the reason why there’s a rift forming in what’s usually an unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel.
This speech has further the already ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans, it has done this by some praising the speech, and some criticizing it. A president should be notified when a foreign leader wants to speak to Congress about a foreign affairs issue, particularly if that issue conflicts with the president’s foreign policy objectives. That didn’t happen in this case, which makes this whole situation bizarre.
Netanyahu’s speech to Congress will probably go down in history as one of the most politically tampering speeches given in Washington by a foreign leader that’s the leader of a major U.S. ally. This speech did more harm than good, and let’s hopes this kind of thing never happens again in Washington.