Photo: Emil Salman
Photo: Emil Salman

Fox News joins chorus of Netanyahu critics

Conservative outlet's anchors say relationship with US will suffer, after New York Times, American officials slam timing of prime minister's Congress address.

The criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over his intention to address the US Congress two weeks before the Israeli elections, has not stopped at water's edge. And while the criticism from President Barack Obama's administration and the editorial board of the New York Times was expected, this weekend the Likud leader was targeted by a network he once counted among his supporters – Fox News.



During a conversation between anchor Chris Wallace and presenter Shepard Smith, the two agreed that Netanyahu's strategy an example of "dicey politics".



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The segment opened with Wallace quoting former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk in the New York Times: "Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama..."


Indyk stressed that, "Unfortunately, the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours." Wallace said he agreed with Indyk, "100 percent."


While the two Fox correspondents backed Netanyahu's consideration on Iran, they questioned his diplomacy in coming to Washington to line up with Obama's opponents on Iran.


US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he had invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3. Boehner confirmed that the invitation had been in the works for several weeks. "I did not consult the White House," he told reporters.


A senior US political source commented on the announcement that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would not meet with Netanyahu, saying: "The last thing we want to do is hurt Israel, but if he is able to stiff the US president like that and we still offer him a meeting - that invites him and anyone else to do that over and over."


"Is this a smart way for them to manage the relationship?" CNN quoted a source close to Kerry as saying. "The bilateral relationship is unshakable, but playing politics with that relationship could blunt Secretary Kerry's enthusiasm for being Israel's primary defender." Kerry's "patience is not infinite," the source added.


Meanwhile, yet another politician back home joined the chorus of competitors, including Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid and Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, criticizing the investigation. Member of Kulanu and Israel's former ambassador in Washington Michael Oren called for Netanyahu to cancel the address.


"The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move, and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran," said Oren.


"It's advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government," he added. "Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House."


James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, wrote in the Huffington Post, wrote in the Huffington Post: "This was one of the most ham-fisted, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous political stunts ever engineered by American and Israeli political leaders."


The New York Times on Friday also accused Netanyahu of "playing politics with Iran" in a Friday editorial.


"Mr. Netanyahu, facing an election on March 17, apparently believes that winning the applause of Congress by rebuking Mr. Obama will bolster his standing as a leader capable of keeping Israel safe," the New York Times' editorial asserted.


Despite that, the paper claims, "it’s hard to see how disrespecting an American president whom even he says has significantly advanced Israel’s security can benefit his country."


The New York Times views the planned address as "a hostile attempt to lobby Congress to enact more sanctions against Iran." Obama has threatened to veto any such move by Congress.


While Netanyahu has expressed his contempt for negotiations with the Islamic Republic, "like his Congressional allies he has never offered a real alternative, except more sanctions (which can’t work if the rest of the world eases up on Iran) or military action," said the editorial board.


"There is no doubt that Mr. Obama will maintain America’s security commitments to Israel, whatever the tensions over the Iran issue," the Times says, but Obama won't meet with Netanyahu in his upcoming relationship, and even Kerry, "who recently called almost 50 world leaders in an effort to block the Palestinians’ attempt to join the International Criminal Court, is losing patience with Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to 'play politics.'"


The Times asserts that "this event is bound to further harm a bilateral relationship that has endured a lot of battering over the past six years" and wonders whether Netanyahu can "really afford to dismiss such allies."



פרסום ראשון: 01.25.15, 01:26
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