John McCain had some harsh words for President Obama on CNN’s State of the Union, speaking about the recent spat with newly reelected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama was concerned with Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, where he appeared to distance himself from a potential two-state solution.
According to John McCain, the president needs to just forget about it.
“The president should get over it. Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President, it’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region, which is threatening the very fabric of the region. The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign.”
John McCain is one of the leading voices in foreign relations on the Hill. He insists that holding Netanyahu accountable for his campaign speeches would mean taking focus off of bigger issues like Iran’s growing influence and ISIS.
At the center of Obama’s conflict with Netanyahu is the prime minister’s promise that there would never be a Palestinian State on his watch. According to the Los Angeles Times, he also gave speeches in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, settlements that are considered illegal by many in the international community.
President Obama told the Huffington Post after the election that “we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.”
The signals from the White House indicate that Israel might no longer have blanket U.S. diplomatic support. John McCain thinks the change in policy is ridiculous.
“The President has his priorities so screwed up that it’s unbelievable,” McCain explained to CNN.
When CNN’s Gloria Borger asked John McCain about Obama considering signing a U.N. resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian State, he said “of course he shouldn’t be considering it.”
McCain went on to threaten Congress’ power of the purse if Obama did pursue that course.
“And, second of all, if he does that, then — and it would be approved by the U.N., then the United States Congress would have to examine our funding for the United Nations. It would be a violation because of the President’s anger over a statement by Bibi, by the prime minister of Israel. It would contradict American policy for the last at least 10 presidents of the United States.”
If John McCain’s implicit threat is real, the American people might have another drawn-out budget dispute to look forward to.
Netanyahu and the White House have been in a low-level conflict for some time, but their disputes have been spilling out into more public incidents. According to the Guardian, high-level officials like John Kerry and Joe Biden have made public appearances with left-leaning Israeli opposition leaders. Likewise, the White House has engaged in a snub offensive against Netanyahu, such as denying him an invitation to the White House and accusing the Israeli government of being untrustworthy.
With the help of Congressional leaders like John McCain, Netanyahu has launched his own diplomatic slights, like last month’s speech to Congress. President of the Senate Joe Biden was conspicuously absent from the event.
Too much drama?
On a fundamental level, not much has changed in Israel’s alliance with the U.S. Still, it’s hard to say if John McCain’s lectures are helping or hurting the situation.
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