When the White House caught wind that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to Congress in March, officials became angry that he circumvented the administration, reported The Times of Israel. Netanyahu instead coordinated with House Speaker John Boehner, as they mount an attempt to win support for sanctions against Iran.
“There are things you simply don’t do,” said an unnamed senior White House official. “He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
Months ago, another unnamed White House official branded Netanyahu as a “chickenshit.” The Times of Israel reported that the language used this week paled in comparison to the “chickenshit” remark.
Republicans in Congress have been gearing up for a fight with Obama concerning sanctions against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Obama has strongly proclaimed that he will veto any sanctions that Congress puts on his desk. Now, Boehner is trying to mount a huge Congressional campaign to secure a two-thirds majority, enough to override a presidential veto.
Secretary of State John Kerry was perhaps the most displeased with Netanyahu, as Kerry has gone to bat for Israel on the international level several times. Kerry’s support involved his contacting of world leaders to rally opposition against a “UN Security Council resolution which would have set a timeframe for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
“The secretary’s patience is not infinite,” said one close to Kerry. “The bilateral relationship is unshakable. But playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry’s enthusiasm for being Israel’s primary defender.”
Other Democratic officials in Washington expressed disapproval of Netanyahu’s blatant breach of American-international protocol.
“The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when is traveling there,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “That is certainly how President Obama’s trips are planned. So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”
This event is more than just a gaffe or political faux pas; there are some serious international implications here. The actions of Netanyahu and the Republicans show the desire to commit acts that will further strain American-Iranian relations. There’s too much risk of another war.