In what appears to be a new low point in the Washington-Jerusalem relations, US Secretary John Kerry took another swing at Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In the latest stage in the row between the White House and Jerusalem over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a special session of Congress on Iran’s nuclear program, scheduled for next week, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly questioned the Israeli leader’s judgment and his ability to understand and formulate proper foreign policy.
“Let me say this. The prime minister, as you recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision,” Kerry told members of Congress during a briefing of the Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
“He may have a judgment that just may not be correct here and let’s just wait and hear what he says. I’m not going to pre-judge his statement any more than he should pre-judge this [Iran] agreement.”
US National Security Advisor Slams ‘Destructive’ Decisions.
Kerry joined Susan Rice, the president’s national security adviser, in slamming Netanyahu’s stance on Iran and his pending Congress speech. In a TV interview on Tuesday, Rice said that Netanyahu was endangering the “fabric” of US-Israeli relations by insisting on addressing Congress over President Barack Obama’s objections.
She categorized Netanyahu’s and Boehner’s decisions as “not only unfortunate,” but “destructive” as well.
“[Support for Israel has] always been bipartisan,” she said. “We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants it that way. The American people want it that way. And when it becomes injected or infused with politics, that’s a problem.”
Not only Israel, but a number of Western and Arab countries believe that Iran has been covertly violating the international Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, increasing its nuclear program in size and scope while experimenting with weapons techniques.
The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also expressed concerns in a secret report exposed last week regarding Iran’s evasiveness vis-a-vis its nuclear abilities and development. “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures,” the IAEA report states, referring to allegations of explosives tests and other activity indicating the development of nuclear bombs by Iran.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration seems to be adamant in finalizing a deal with Iran, possibly in an attempt to solidify their legacy, some pundits say.
Rumsfeld ‘Amazed’ by Obama Administration’s ‘Rudeness’ Towards Israel
The former US defense secretary has strong words for the Obama administration and its treatment of Israel in relation to the nuclear Iran issue.
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized the Obama administration’s negative focus on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to the US, saying it was an “unfortunate distraction” from the important issue – the Iranian nuclear threat.
“I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue,” he said in an interview with the Israel Hayom. “It is more than a distraction, it is unfortunate. It plays into the hands of those people who are not in favor of the relationship [between Israel and the US], who are not in favor of Israel or who are in favor of Iran, and the idea that people are saying what they are saying I find most unfortunate.”
Critical of the Obama administration’s recent treatment of Israel concerning the Iranian nuclear issue, Rumsfeld told the Israeli daily: “If the White House or the administration has a problem on an issue with a friend, normally they would work it out privately. They would sit down and say, ‘gee, what about this, what about that, let’s work this out.’ In this case it’s all public diplomacy.”
Rice’s ‘Imperfect Understanding’ of Government
Remarking on National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s comments Tuesday that Netanyahu’s acceptance of House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress “injected a degree of partisanship” that is “destructive to the fabric of the relationship” between the US and Israel, Rumsfeld noted that “the comments by Susan Rice reflect an imperfect understanding of our system of government and our constitution.”
Runsfeld defended Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to address a special session of Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat next week. “Certainly there’s a role for the Congress in foreign policy and national security affairs,” he told Israel Hayom. “Iran is a critical issue and Israel is an important ally, and there is nothing inappropriate at all for the speaker to invite the prime minister or for the prime minister to come over. Historically he is a good friend of the US, he is a supporter of the relationship between our two countries, and I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue.”
The former defense secretary does not share the State Department’s opinion that Netanyahu is mistaken regarding the potential deal between the P5+1 and Iran, nor does he find Netanyahu’s upcoming address damaging to the Israel-US relationship. “I think the administration is making a statement that they don’t want anything to intervene in their negotiations with Iran, and they are probably understandably apprehensive that Prime Minister Netanyahu will come and talk about this subject in a way that is not consistent with what their aspirations are for a deal with Iran. Therefore, they have said things that are undiplomatic and inconsistent with the relationship between our two countries and its importance, and I can’t imagine that, among the American people, it will affect our relationship adversely in any way. I’m really amazed at the rudeness, at the undiplomatic way this administration is handling this issue.”
White House’s Conduct ‘Unfortunate’
Decrying the White House’s conduct, Rumsfeld told Israel Hayom: “It is unfortunate because it damages, or appears to damage, the relationship with an important ally for the United States. I think it is exactly what the Iranians are happy to hear – it has to be encouraging for them. But it is also unprofessional. I think the rest of the nations of the world look at the administration’s behavior in this matter and see the damage that has been done to one of our important relationships. It is not in any sense permanent damage because this administration is in its waning years, but I think that other countries will inevitably wonder how reliable an ally this administration is.”
In an interview earlier this week with Newsmax, Rumsfeld said that the administration was making a “big mistake” in treating Netanyahu so poorly. “It is not in our interest and it’s not in Israel’s interest and I would add it’s not in the region’s interest.”
“The relationship between the United States and Israel today is probably as bad as ever in my adult lifetime,” Rumsfeld underscored. “It is a shame because it is a country that is small, it’s embattled, it’s got neighbors that wish it weren’t there and it faces a growing threat from Iran, a nuclear Iran.”
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