‘Netanyahu can cause trouble for US administration but he can’t nix deal with Iran’

srael's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu can’t scrap a possible nuclear deal between the US and Iran, what he can do is pollute the atmosphere on Capitol Hill in getting any sort of a deal through, defense analyst Ivan Eland told RT.

RT:Could Netanyahu really derail any possible nuclear deal with Iran, especially since the Republicans dominate Capitol Hill?

Ivan Eland: I think he can throw a wrench into this trying to sabotage it and certainly the administration under a constitution negotiates with a foreign country so he really can’t scrap a deal. What he can do is pollute the atmosphere on Capitol Hill in getting any sort of deal through if they make it into a treaty, and even if they make it into an executive agreement there can still be a lot of opposition. There have already been complaints of excessive executive action on the part of the Obama administration. So if he made an executive agreement with Iran on the nuclear program I think there will be pressure to have some sort of Congressional approval of it.I think Netanyahu can cause trouble for the administration but he can’t nix any sort of deal that might be signed.

Analyst Robert Naiman from the Just Foreign Policy group on the goals of Netanyahu's trip to the US: “We know from the beginning [Netanyahu] already has most Republicans on his side. Every Republican senator except for Rand Paul and Jeff Flake is eating out of his hand…If his goal is to get a vote for an override of new sanctions against Iran in the Senate he needs Democrats. What he’s done and what his supporters have done have alienated Democrats and pushed Democrats away from him… So most people think that whatever chance there was before of getting Congress to override new sanctions on Iran, which is of course all about trying to blow up the talks… Nobody seems to think that he’s improved the chances of that, just the opposite…which is maybe a part of why 2/3 of Israelis think that this trip to Washington is about the Israeli election in two weeks not about Iran’s nuclear program.”

RT:Last October, one Obama administration official branded Netanyahu as a “coward,” although he actually used a stronger word. What are the main arguments between Benjamin Netanyahu and the current US Cabinet?

IE: Of course Netanyahu is a hardliner against Iran. He wants the entire Iranian nuclear program dismantled which is really a nonstarter. They do have a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to have the peaceful use of nuclear power and according to the Iranians that’s all they are doing. Of course everybody suspects they are trying to get at least the precursors for a bomb. I don’t know if they made a decision to actually weaponize, but they are just not going to give up their nuclear program because of prestige value, and also because most Iranians across the political spectrum in Iran support the nuclear program. And I don’t think more sanctions are going to work because whenever you get a united front in a country when you use either economic or military power against them it usually has a ‘rally round the flag’ effect in that country. So I don’t think more sanctions - which are what Netanyahu is advocating instead of this deal - are going to work. The only logical thing to do is what Obama and other countries are trying to do and that is to limit the ability of Iran to create a nuclear weapon.

Analyst Robert Naiman from the Just Foreign Policy group on the goals of Netanyahu's trip to the US: “…There is a sense that Netanyahu is being the opposite of somebody who is looking at a long-term interest, he’s looking at his short-term personal political gain…”

RT:How bad does Netanyahu need US government support at the moment?

IE: I think the problem is that he always gets the US government’s support. Frankly this a domestic political issue rather than a security issue. What happens is Israel has a lot of lobbying power in the US and therefore the US usually does Israel’s bidding. Now of course Obama is pushed back on that a little and Obama doesn’t have to be reelected again but there is a whole lot of Democrats who do need to be reelected again, and they need the Jewish vote and a lot of Christians support in Israel as well so they need that vote. I think the biggest news here is that Netanyahu is really putting the Democrats in a bad position because they have to choose between Obama and support for Israel.

Analyst Robert Naiman from the Just Foreign Policy group on US-Israeli relations: “There are so many levers that the Obama administration could use to pressure Netanyahu that it’s not using… And I think that’s why we are seeing now… some attempt to paper over the differences because Netanyahu knows very well… that the Obama administration has cards that it’s not played yet.”

RT:Nearly 200 former Israeli military and intelligence officials have criticized Netanyahu's upcoming anti-Iran Congress speech, arguing that it will only spur Tehran to get nuclear weapons. How likely is that in your view?

IE: These elite in Israel are important in opposing Netanyahu. But the problem is the reason Netanyahu is coming for has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program. He’s made his objections clear to the White House and he knows what support he has in Congress. This speech is designed for his audience at home because he is in a tough reelection bid. Just because the Israeli elite goes against Netanyahu the Israeli people may not. These are always crowd pleasers at home when you act tough abroad especially standing up to a US President that isn’t very popular in Israel. So you don’t know what is going to happen with the Israeli election, but Netanyahu is clearly trying to use this to win support in a tight election at home.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.