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Netanyahu Will Address Congress…Again

Speaker John Boehner / Flickr

Pushing for new sanctions legislation isn’t the only thing that hawks have in mind for sabotaging diplomacy with Iran:

Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about Iran next month, a move sure to inflame the Obama administration, which is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic.

Boehner is free to invite whom he likes, but it is still a fairly obnoxious move. The invitation is clearly timed to interfere with the ongoing nuclear negotiations, and it is also a transparent attempt to influence the Israeli elections the following month. I suppose it is intended to be a sort of repayment to Netanyahu after he did his best to side with Romney in the last presidential election, since it will probably give Netanyahu a boost at home to be seen receiving countless standing ovations from our members of Congress. It doubles as an opportunity to rally “pro-Israel” hawks in Congress behind the bad cause of undermining a deal on the nuclear issue. While they will portray this as opposition to a “bad deal,” it has become hard to miss that they won’t accept any deal that the Iranians would be able to accept. In other words, hard-liners on this issue see any deal as a “bad deal,” and would prefer to return to the state of affairs before the interim agreement imposed constraints on Iran’s nuclear program. They would like to see the P5+1 talks with Iran fail and be replaced by nothing but increased hostility and suspicion, and they’re calling on Netanyahu to help them.

The frequency with which Israeli leaders have been addressing Congress in the last decade is remarkable in itself. This will also be the third time overall that Netanyahu has addressed Congress as Israeli prime minister, and the second time in four years that he will have done so. It will be the third address to Congress by an Israeli prime minister within a decade, and fifth since 1995. No other country’s head of government has spoken so often to our Congress in the last twenty years. (It is not an accident that the last five appearances have taken place while the GOP controlled the House.) That might make sense if Israel were actually a treaty ally of the United States, but it isn’t. It also might make sense if the relationship with Israel were extraordinarily valuable to the U.S., but the U.S. gets almost nothing from this relationship except political and diplomatic headaches. It is one more example of how one-sided and strange the U.S.-Israel relationship has become.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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