Thursday, February 5, 2015

Should Netanyahu care if Democrats boycott his speech to Congress?

Among those not committed to attend; Vice President Joe Biden. His absence would be viewed as a major slap in the face of the prime minister.
There are several factors in play here. One has to do with Netanyahu. The other with House Speaker John Boehner.
On the one hand, the president doesn’t want to be lectured, directly or indirectly, by Netanyahu, over his negotiations with Iran. Which include no additional sanctions. Netanyahu is very concerned about all this. And will lay out to Congress his reasons why.
The other issue has to do with protocol. Boehner’s failure to notify the White House before announcing Netanyahu’s scheduled address.
Either way, this underscores the rift, not necessarily between the United States and Israel, but certainly between the president and the prime minister.
There are those who feel that Netanyahu is doing this because he must sound the alarm about Iran. But some think it’s a move of desperation – an attempt to gain support just ahead of the election back home.
At any rate, this whole thing has riled Democrats. Seven Democratic members of Congress – all Jewish – met with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, and gave him an earful. Urging him to urge Netanyahu to at least postpone the speech.
But there’s another side to all of this. Netanyahu seems to be throwing caution to the wind, seeking support of the Republicans who control Congress; seemingly not caring if the Democrats like it or not. This is a change, indicating that he’s not compromising in favor of bipartisan support. That may actually help the Republicans. Whether it helps or hurts Israel remains to be seen.

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