Obama Attacks Netanyahu

Obama Attacks NetanyahuObama Attacks Netanyahu

The differences between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were on display Monday when the two offered dramatically divergent takes on a nuclear deal with Iran -- even as Netanyahu struck a conciliatory tone during his visit to Washington.

Obama told Reuters that a nuclear deal with Iran would be “far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be.” He also said Netanyahu has been wrong before -- pointing to the 2013 interim deal with Iran, CNN said in a report.

“Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief.

“Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true,” Obama said. “It has turned out that in fact, during this period we’ve seen Iran not advance its program.”

Netanyahu, meanwhile, desperately insisted that the US-Israeli relationship remains strong and, despite controversy surrounding his Tuesday address to Congress, said the two nations “will weather this current disagreement.”

  Rising Disapproval

Polling has shown Americans disapprove of House Speaker John Boehner’s move to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress without notifying the White House. That, and the timing of the speech so close to the Israeli election, has critics accusing Boehner and Netanyahu of politicizing the issue of Iran’s nuclear talks.

But in his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the prime minister refuted those critics, insisting that his Tuesday speech is “not intended to inject Israel into the American partisan debate,” and reaffirming his support for Obama.

Netanyahu said that as prime minister of Israel, “I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these threats while there is time to avert them.”

Netanyahu acknowledged during his Monday address that disagreements between the US and Israel are “only natural from time to time,” because there are “important differences” between the two nations.

AIPAC executive Howard Kohr acknowledged Sunday that “the way this speech has come about has created a great deal of upset among Democrats,” but said the situation hasn’t risen to the level of a crisis yet, and “frankly, it’s up to us to not let it become a crisis.

  Jews Disregard AIPAC Speech

Hours after Netanyahu gave a speech at the AIPAC conference on Monday, those who were leaving the venue for the night were greeted by dozens of chanting protesters.

Some of the protesters said they were of Palestinian descent, but others were Jewish. It was this second group that surprised many of those exiting the AIPAC conference.

Jacob Weisfeld of ‘Texans for Israel’, said he “didn’t expect to see any Jews out here protesting at all. I expected to see more people with Palestinian flags talking about the occupation.”

One of the protest organizers was Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta International, who said he was out protesting because he said he wanted the world to know that, while Netanyahu and others inside AIPAC use symbols like the Star of David, “they do not represent in any way, shape or form, Judaism.”

He drew a distinction between Jews and Zionists, and said he was protesting the Zionists who have taken land from people that they end up vilifying.

“We’re protesting because Netanyahu does not represent the views of all American Jews and because it’s inappropriate for Israel to try and force the US into an unnecessary war with Iran,” Seth Morrison, a demonstrator, told the Middle East Eye.

Leslie Gelb, President of the non-profit American organization Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Netanyahu is 100 percent wrong. Even Netanyahu’s military and intelligence staff do want war with Iran.”

More protests are expected when Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Protesters gathered in Washington ahead of Netanyahu’s address, using a social media campaign to dissuade congressmen from taking their seats.

Some 60 Democrats are expected to stay away, including Vice President Joe Biden.

Demonstrators include Morrison’s group, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Roots Action, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and others with long-standing concern over Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank.