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Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Times of Israel, "Israel’s former US envoy: PM should cancel Congress speech": I Disagree

Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren is a friend with whom I have served in the Israeli army and for whom I have the highest respect. As I write this blog entry, Mike's marvelous book, "Six Days of War," sits on a shelf opposite me. However, we disagree regarding the stance he has taken with respect to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress on March 3.

As reported by The Times of Israel in an article entitled "Israel’s former US envoy: PM should cancel Congress speech":

"Oren, who is running for Knesset on the Kulanu list led by popular former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon, told Channel 2 Saturday that it was 'advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House."

Iran is an existential threat to Israel, as most recently evidenced by the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammad Ali-Allah Dadi on the Syrian border with Israel. One week ago, an Israeli army helicopter killed General Dadi together with six top Hezbollah commanders, while they were mapping out future missile strikes against Israel to be launched from the Syrian Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, Obama is willy-nilly determined to reach an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons development program. As was noted last January by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes regarding a nuclear deal with Iran:

"This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is healthcare for us, just to put it in context."

However, as stated by former White House advisor Dennis Ross, Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh in a Politico article entitled "Time to Take It to Iran":

"During the course of the nuclear negotiations over the past year, Iran has been the beneficiary of a generous catalogue of concessions from the West. The 5-plus-1 has conceded to Iranian enrichment, agreed that Tehran need not scale back the number of its centrifuges significantly or dismantle any facilities and could have an industrial-size program after passage of a period of time. The Iranians have, during the course of the ten years of negotiations, grown accustomed to having their interlocutors return to the table with concessions meant to meet their mandates while offering only limited compromises of their own.

. . . .

Hence it is time to acknowledge that we need a revamped coercive strategy, one that threatens what the Islamic Republic values the most—its influence in the Middle East and its standing at home. And the pattern of concessions at the negotiating table must stop if there is to be an acceptable agreement. Iranian officials must come to understand that there will be no further concessions to reach an accord and that time is running out for negotiations."

Mike Oren claims that Israel needs to guard its interests in the White House. My belief, however, is that Obama is obsessively determined to reach agreement with Iran no matter what the consequences for Israel, and that Israel can expect nothing but hostility from Obama during the next two years.

As such, Netanyahu has an obligation to present Congress with evidence of the full extent of the Iranian threat, including ongoing development of nuclear weapons at Iran's Parchin facility, to which Tehran is denying access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

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