Will Bibi and Barack Agree on Iran?

Despite a troubled history, Obama and Netanyahu make nice at White House talks

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Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Sept. 30, 2013

The first time Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Iran, they did so in a janitorial office at Reagan National Airport. It was 2007, and candidate Obama was returning to Washington from a campaign trip to Iowa. Netanyahu, who was then the head of the opposition in Israel and whose aides had trumpeted Obama’s potential, wanted to size him up.

Most of the hastily arranged conversation focused on how to handle the threat of a nuclear Iran, and Netanyahu came away positively impressed, says one Israeli official who was present. “I can work with this man,” the aide recalls Netanyahu saying.

Six years later, the two leaders are still working on agreeing how to handle Iran. Aides to both men say Iran was the primary subject of their White House meeting today, but instead of agreeing on approaches, the men are in danger of diverging. And the consequences of disagreement could be dangerous for both countries.

After four years of efforts to slow Iran’s program through diplomatic outreach, economic pressure and covert action, Obama committed in the heat of the 2012 election to go to war with Iran if it managed to get a nuclear weapon. But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s election this summer, and his push to make progress on the nuclear issue, have restarted the diplomatic track.

That worries Netanyahu, who suspects Iran may be buying time for its nuclear program to advance to an unstoppable level. If U.S.-Iran talks are going nowhere and Iran’s nuclear program goes too far, Netanyahu has threatened to order an attack against Iranian facilities.

The discussions today were tinged by a history of difficult exchanges between Netanyahu and Obama. For all the supposed bonhomie of their first encounter at the airport, they have clashed on details and symbolism. And the two men are very different. As liberal Israeli politician Avram Burg told me for a 2010 profile of the relationship of the two men, “You cannot stitch together the world visions of Obama and Netanyahu,” he says. “This is a clash of the psychological infrastructure.”

But the two men managed to put on a good face when they came out of their meeting at the White House. Obama committed, again, to keeping the military option on the table. “As president of the United States, I’ve said before, and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.”

And Netanyahu seemed to endorse Obama’s approach to talks. “I want to express my appreciation to you for the enormous work that’s been done to have a sanctions regime in place to thwart Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. I believe that it’s the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of those sanctions that have brought Iran to the negotiating table,” Netanyahu said.

What’s not clear is whether, after six years of trying, Obama and Netanyahu have finally found agreement on Iran, or just on the importance of pretending they have. Then again given their history, even pretense would be progress.

22 comments
BuckarooBonsai
BuckarooBonsai

Netanyahu's hysteria and desperation are palpable.  Israelis have developed a sense of entitlement, when it comes to America and Americans doing and dying for Israel's 'security'.

For example, from the Israeli daily Haaretz:

"Attack already, Obama, we want to like you for a change

Mr. Israeli has gone from being a fierce critic of Barack Obama to a conditional fan - the condition being an attack on Syria."

Think about that as you ponder America's economic quagmire, and remind yourself Israel gets at least $3 Billion of American charity, annually.

See for yourself:

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.544610

BuckarooBonsai
BuckarooBonsai

First, Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty and this ENTITLES them to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purpose.  Anybody, ESPECIALLY Netanyahu, who claims certainty Iran is developing a bomb is a LIAR.

Second, ISRAEL HAS HUNDREDS of nukes, refuses to sign NPT, and has threatened to use them, at least as recently as the Yom Kippur War.  Google the "Samson Option".

Third, here we go again with the "prove a negative" fallacy.  Think about it... how can ANYBODY prove they DON'T have something or that they did not do something?  That's why the burden of proof rests with the accuser, to prove something DID occur.

Here's how positive Binyamin Netanyahu was Iraq had nukes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpQdg4D78Jc

btt1943
btt1943

Bibi and Obama will agree on nothing. Bibi has already warned him not to listen to the "sweet talk" of Iran president.

The Israel premier has been waiting desperately to conduct air strike over Iran for months.       (ttm1943)

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

Who cares? This is NOT the United States of Israel ....

ahandout
ahandout

Should be Bibi and Barry.  

 “As president of the United States, I’ve said before, and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.”

OK, where does that leave Israel?  Does this depend on what your definition of "destabilize" is?  For example, in Obama's world those that don't agree with him politically are terrorists.  Does that not apply to Israel in his warped mind? 



somereasoning
somereasoning

it is shameful to think that we are aligned with Saudi Arabia in every way, militarily, economically, strategically, but cannot come to terms with Iran. In that part of the world, Iran is a modern, open minded state. Saudi Arabia is a paranoid theocracy that preaches and practices sharia law. If we put a spotlight on Saudi Arabia, the American public would be disgusted.

Israel is in this alliance because no one else in the region wants to deal with them. We have to realign our priorities and chose our friends and enemies with greater care.

reallife
reallife

The love oozes out of that picture, doesn't it?

Hallmark should use it on their Valentine's card next year

lol

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Sorry Bibi, this time the US President has not just the American people behind him but also the rest of the world. For the first time, the US managed to get all five permanent members of the Security Counsel to agree on Syria. For the first time, Rouhani's overtures were made possible in part through the efforts of Russia and China, who have not agreed with threats on Iran. For the first time, Rouhani has won the hears and minds of the whole world. Just you Bibi are the only person who cannot believe the others. Even your own countrymen disagree with your position. Bravo Obama! Stay your course. Afterall you were not given a Nobel prize for peace in vain!

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

The americans and its system should be ashamed to be being put pressure by a country that owes its existence to this great Nation. A country with a history only compared to the Hussein's Iraq. Both countries invaded other countries. Both countries used chemical weapons against the supposed enemy. Both countries used religion to keep on existing. Both countries have been condemned by the UN for crimes against other people. And now, this prime minister, comes to this president to put pressure to start another war in the name of protecting his country against these bad Muslims. What is the size of the chemical and nuclear stock pile that Israel possess? Nobody knows because this derelict country has never signed any treat with international agencies to control WMD. And again he repeats the threat that no other country or agency of civilized people should accept: He will order a bombing od Iran facilities no matter what the consequences are for the middle East, if Obama doesn't listen to him. But Obama, or the American Zionist congress instead of hushing him, they agree wholeheartedly: Israel, and no other country in the world, has the right to defend itself. NOT THE PALESTINIAN, NOT THE IRANIS, NOT ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, ONLY ISRAEL. And only Israel has the right to steal other people' land, not Serbia, not Iraq, no sir, only Israel.

  One week ago, Evo Morales, the president of that controversial country Bolivia, a country whose big sin was to have elected a left wing president against the designs of the big daddy of the North, was negated the permission to fly its presidential plane over American skies. Bolivia has never invaded other countries, has never taken other people's land, it is just another sovereign country. The same occurred to Maduro the president of Venezuela. But here we have a prime minister who presides over a country that doesn't respect human rights, whose country invades other countries at will, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and who bomb at will  other countries and take its peoples as hostages, whose country has more than 20 resolutions from the UN condemning it for its continuous violations of International Law, is RECEIVE WITH ALL HONORS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE USA. 

   PERHAPS THE OLD SAYING IS TRUE, " BIRDS OF A FEATHER...".

arvay
arvay

@BuckarooBonsai 


Spot on.

This should be simple -- Israel's minute-by-minute  existence is a s gift from the US taxpayer. So they should follow our lead -- no ifs, ands or buts. If they attack Iran, they are on their own.

jsfox
jsfox

It would be absolutely wonderful if this comment made a bit of sense.

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@fitty_three Contradict me!  Contradict with facts any of my affirmations. If you have nothing to add to the conversation, just disappear.

ahandout
ahandout

@jsfox  The White House considers its political enemies, "terrorists."  Ask Dan Pfeiffer, Obama's chief advisor.

Obama and Democrats parse the meaning of their statements.  Such as Cliton's "it depends on what your definition of is, is." 

Obama has no been exactly supportive of Israel's wish to take care of Iran's nuclear bomb program.

Obama has shown that he cannot be trusted.  Believe me, our allies have noticed.

Caught up now?  Maybe you should read more.

BuckarooBonsai
BuckarooBonsai

@ahandout 

Typical.  You can't fault the facts so you attack the person.  BTW 'too' is the form used to mean 'also'.  You should have used 'to', not that it would help your 'argument', or your credibility.  With that $9 Billion a year defense budget, you'd think Israel could afford electronic 'warriors' with a decent command of spelling, grammar, diction, and semantics -- four strikes, and you are OUT!

BTW, the Binyamin's megalomaniacal desperation plays well, as we grow ever nearer to that critical mass of US public opinion needed to send AIPAC packing.

Have a nice day.

ahandout
ahandout

@BuckarooBonsai @ahandout  Boy, mention Israel and the crazies come out to play.  The Israelis are not stupid.  They realize where they sit geographically and politically; they have too.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East.  YOU think it's Hezbollah, but it's not.

BuckarooBonsai
BuckarooBonsai

@ahandout

First, why should ANY American give a flying F about the opinion of Israeli Jews, or any other people apart from the population of ... AMERICA?

Second, here's some more Israeli opinion survey results:

From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz… “Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel”, October 23, 2012. The paper has since caved into pressure to remove the word ‘apartheid’ from the headline. The facts revealed by the survey remain, regardless of the label one chooses to apply to a ‘society’ where such attitudes prevail.

“Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.

A majority also explicitly favors discrimination against the state’s Arab citizens, a survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews. The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees.

The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists. Dialog is headed by Tel Aviv University Prof. Camil Fuchs.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank…

Almost half – 47 percent – want the Arab part of Israel’s population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority…

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them…

The ultra-Orthodox, in contrast to those who described themselves as religious or observant, hold the most extreme positions against the Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (83 percent ) of Haredim are in favor of segregated roads and 71 percent are in favor of transfer… – 70 percent of them support legally barring Israeli Arabs from voting, 82 percent support preferential treatment from the state toward Jews, and 95 percent are in favor of discrimination against Arabs in admission to workplaces.”

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/survey-most-israeli-jews-would-support-apartheid-regime-in-israel.premium-1.471644

ahandout
ahandout

@jsfox  Connect the dots...and don't be a fool.  Iran is just stalling.  Israel already took out a nuclear facility in Syria, in 2007.  You probably think that was a bad thing.

I already knew this.

In a new Israel Hayom poll, a majority of Israeli Jews—66.7 percent—characterized U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis as “not successful.” Meanwhile, 65.3 percent said that given Obama’s conduct regarding Syria, he would not be able to successfully deal with the Iran nuclear program.

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/09/13/israeli-poll-after-syria-jewish-state-cant-trust-obama-on-iran/

jsfox
jsfox

Another right wing foreign policy idiot.

Bibs doesn't want to take care of Iran's nuke problem he wanted us to do I for him. There isn't a US military leader who thinks bombing Iran is a good idea.

In the mean time the sanctions seem to be working. Iran is talking. I realize you think bombing is the only solution, but it isn't.

Only the neocons don't trust Obama and that is good thing.