WASHINGTON – Recent tensions between Israel
and the United States over a possible strike in Iran
are infiltrating American politics and the presidential election campaign.
The Democratic Party platform, which will be brought to the approval of the Democratic National Convention opening Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, specifically mentions the option of a military attack on Iran – but only if all other moves aimed at curbing the Islamic Republic's nuclear program fail.
The new platform notes that "President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution. At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options – including military force – remain on the table.
"But we have an obligation to use the time and space that exists now to put increasing pressure on the Iranian regime to live up to its obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or face the consequences.
Obama's election campaign (Photo: Reuters)
"President Obama, working closely with our international partners and Congress, has put in place unprecedented sanctions against Iran," the Democratic Party's platform adds.
"Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon, but has continually failed to meet its obligations under the NPT and several United Nations Security Council resolutions, and it cannot demonstrate with any credibility that its program is peaceful.
"The president is committed to using all instruments of national power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
As the new document is being published, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
seems to have altered his own rhetoric,
starting with a call on the international community to draw a line that would convince Iran it was determined to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear arms.
The military option is yet to be taken off the table, but for the first time in months the prime minister has allowed diplomacy to take center stage. While Israeli statesmen have alluded to sanctions and talks as the solution that could prevent an attack, Netanyahu maintained a combative narrative that all but deemed diplomacy obsolete.
Officials in the capital postulate that Netanyahu has realized that "the time has come to get off his high horse. The tension and the public spat over the media isn't doing any good."
According to the officials, the US has been waging an intensive psychological battle against an Israeli operation over the past few weeks, which included media leaks and effectively de-legitimized a military move by the Jewish state. The bottom line was delivered by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, who went as far as to say that he does not want "to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it."
The platform of the Democrats, who are convening for three days of a traditional election campaign celebration, asserts that "when President Obama took office, Iran was ascendant in the region, and the international community was divided over how to address Iran’s nuclear violations.
"The president’s early offer of engagement with Iran – quickly rebuffed by the regime – allowed the United States to expose Iranian intransigence and rally the international community as never before."
Obama at the White House. 'Rallied the international community' (Photo: AP)
Despite several setbacks on the way, the Democrats argue that "working with our European allies and with Russia and China, the administration gained unprecedented agreement for the toughest ever UN sanctions against Iran, laying the foundation for additional national financial and energy sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations.
"As a result, Iran is now increasingly isolated and the regime faces crippling economic pressure – pressure that will only build over time."
The platform includes "an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security" and to increasing security assistance to the Jewish state despite budgetary constraints in the US.
The chapter discussing the Middle East relates mostly to Israel. "A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values."
"For this reason," the document notes, "the president has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years."
Obama supporters in Virginia (Photo: Reuters)
The Democratic platform further mentions that "the administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
"The president’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security."
Obama's party explains that "it is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.
"At the same time, the president has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met."
In this context, the platform declares that "President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years.
"And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements."