Associates of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Oct. 2, leaked word to the media that high-ranking Gulf emirate officials had recently visited Israel, signaling a further widening in the rift between Israel and President Barack Obama over his outreach to Tehran. These visits were in line with the ongoing exchanges Israel was holding with Saudi and Gulf representatives to align their actions for offsetting any potential American easing-up on Iran’s nuclear program.
debkafile reports that this is the first time Israel official sources have publicly aired diplomatic contacts of this kind in the region. They also reveal that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates have agreed to synchronize their lobbying efforts in the US Congress to vote down the Obama administration’s moves on Iran.
debkafile reported earlier Wednesday:
After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House Monday, Sept. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry carried a message requesting moderation in the speech he was to deliver next day to the United Nations.
On the other hand, at least two European diplomats, German and French, made the opposite request: they asked for a hard-hitting Israeli peroration for setting boundaries – not so much for Iran’s nuclear program as for attempt to slow down President Obama’s dash for détente with Tehran.
It is feared in European capitals that the US is running too fast and too far in his bid for reconciliation with the Islamic Republic, to the detriment by association of their own standing I the Persian Gulf.
They are moreover miffed by the way Washington used Europe as a tool in the long nuclear negotiations between the Six World Powers with Iran and is now dumping them in favor of direct dealings with Iranian leaders.
Netanyahu decided not to accede to either request. Instead he laid out his credo: Iran must discontinue nuclear development and dismantle its program or face up to the risk of a lone Israeli military attack.
The look on the face of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, sitting at the US delegation’s table in the UN hall, showed he had realized that the prime minister’s words were not just addressed to Tehran; they were an unforeseen broadside against the Obama administration’s Iranian strategy.
The dissonance between Jerusalem and Washington on Iran and its nuclear aspirations, played down after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting at the White House, emerged at full blast in the UN speech. The consequences are likely to be reflected in American media, as they were at the low point in relations in 2010, when administration officials day by day planted negative assessments of Israel’s military inadequacies for damaging Iran’s nuclear facilities.
After the UN speech, the Israeli Home Defense Minister Gilead Erdan tried to pour oil on troubled waters by commenting that the prime minister’s speech had strengthened Obama’s hand against Tehran. However, Netanyahu had a different object. It was to paint Washington’s new partner in détente in the blackest colors, even though he knows there is no chance of swaying the US President from his pursuit of Tehran and the sanctions, which he believes to be the only effective deterrent for giving the Iranians pause, will soon start unraveling.
Binyamin Netanyahu now faces the uphill job of repairing his own credibility. For five years has had declared again and again that Israel’s military option is on track in certain circumstances, but has never lived up to the threat. He has followed a path of almost total military passivity.
President Obama knows that Israel’s military capacity is up to a solo operation against Iran. Tehran, however, though conscious of the IDF’s high military, technological and cyber warfare capabilities, is convinced that Israel like the United States has lost the appetite for a military initiative.
Netanyahu must now revive Israel’s deterrence and convince Iran that his challenge at the UN had ended an era of military passivity and should be taken seriously.
In the coming weeks, therefore, the Iranians will react with steps to upset US-Israeli relations, possibly by raising military tensions in the region directly or through their proxies. Until now Tehran operated from outside Washington and its inner councils. Now, smart Iranian diplomats will be sitting down with the US president close to his ear for friendly discussions on ways to further their rapprochement.