US neocons rally to Netanyahu’s defense, call Obama’s priorities ‘screwed up’
Republican hardliners, ignoring newly-reelected Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-polling remark that a Palestinian state would not happen on his watch, accused Barack Obama of dropping the ball regarding Israel and the Islamic State.
US partisan fractures deepened at the weekend following Israeli
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reelection. With peace talks stalled,
the Palestinians have attempted to win international recognition
of statehood in the UN.
Republicans, however, downplayed the Israeli leader’s campaign pledge that a Palestinian state would not happen during his tenure.
Senator John McCain was unfazed by Netanyahu’s remarks, instead
focusing his vitriol against the Democratic president.
“The least of your problems are what Bibi Netanyahu said in a political campaign. If every politician was held to what they said in a political campaign, obviously that would be a topic of long discussion,” McCain told CNN.
“The president has his priorities so screwed up that it’s unbelievable.”
According to McCain, Obama should put aside his personal differences with Netanyahu and “work together with our Israeli friends” in order to put the brakes on “ISIS and Iranian movement,” which the firebrand US senator believes is “threatening the very fabric of the region.”
At one point, McCain went so far as to tell the US leader: “Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President.”
Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who appeared alongside McCain on the program, reminded that the fundamentals of the US-Israeli relationship are still intact.
“What counts is, are we providing Israel with the critical security equipment technology that they need? And on that, we are,” he said.
Missouri Representative Steve King questioned why US Jews would
remain loyal to the Democratic Party.
“I don’t understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president,” King said.
Meanwhile, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who recently drew a harsh response from Democrats after inviting Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress without first notifying the White House, announced he will fly to Israel at the end of the month – the same time a deadline expires on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Earlier this month, 47 Republicans signed an open letter to Iran claiming any deal made under Obama could be undone by the next elected US president. The letter, which some labeled ‘treasonous’, was sharply criticized by European diplomats who are attempting to put the final touches on the nuclear deal with Tehran.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said Netanyahu has always supported a two-state solution, however “what he’s against is establishing a terror state on the West Bank that would create not another Gaza, but another 20 Gazas,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s permanent observer to the United
Nations, appearing alongside Dermer, expressed strong
reservations over Netanyahu’s comments.
“When we were divided they did not negotiate with us; when we are united they don’t want to negotiate with us,” he said.
Obama said he was in the process of “evaluating”his policy towards Israel in the wake of the Israeli PM’s controversial campaign statements. The day before the March 17 elections, Netanyahu made it clear that he wouldn’t allow the creation of a Palestinian state, while backtracking on the remarks following his election victory.
“I indicated to [Netanyahu] that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible,” Obama said. “We indicated that [this] kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions.”