President Obama stood next to the German Chancellor and delivered a clear message to Benjamin Netanyahu: if the Israeli premier were a real friend like Angela Merkel he wouldn't have even asked to come to Washington D.C. so close to an election. But what the President didn't explain is if that is the rule of the administration, why did John Kerry and Joe Biden meet with Netanyahu's opposition over the weekend?
Asked by a German reporter if he was angry with Prime Minister Netanyahu for coming to speak to Congress, President Obama answered:
With respect to Prime Minister Netanyahu, as I said before, I talk to him all the time. Our teams constantly coordinate. We have a practice of not meeting with leaders right before their elections, two weeks before their elections. As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House. And I suspect she wouldn't have asked for one. So, you know, the -- so, you know, this is just -- some of this just has to do with how we do business.
Obama suggests that he knows what Angela Merkel would do, but he has never faced the Chancellor at a time the U.S. was about to sell out Germany in a nuke deal with a neighbor committed to destroy her. That is the situation he is facing with Netanyahu. Many in the President's own party such as Senator Bob Menendez are unhappy with the direction the President is taking the negotiations. Even the editorial board of the progressive Washington Post is unhappy with the direction of the Administration's Iran negotiations.
As to the President's supposed rule regarding not meeting with foreign leaders close to an election, why then did Secretary of State Kerry and VP Biden meet with Netanyahu's staunchest opposition over the weekend?
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post
Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke briefly on Saturday in the hallway of the Munich Security Conference with Zionist Union Party head Isaac Herzog, who is Netanyahu’s chief political rival in the March 17 elections.
An aide to the vice president told the Post that Herzog and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz [Likud] separately greeted Biden "in passing" at the conference, but that "no meetings, formal or informal, were held with either official."
The Vice President's "greeting in passing" comment is a cover-up. Attendance by leaders at such conferences are choreographed down to the second; people don't meet in a hallway unless they are meant to meet in a hallway. And opposition leader Herzog is milking the "hallway meeting" for everything it's worth:
The Israeli media and politicians within Herzog’s party spun his brief interaction with Kerry and Biden in such a way that it appeared as if the opposition leader, not Netanyahu, had the ear of the White House.
It shows that "when Herzog speaks, the world listens," MK Shelly Yacimovich of the Zionist Union [Herzog's party] said.
In a speech before the security conference on Saturday evening, Herzog attacked Netanyahu’s decision to accept an invitation from the House Speaker, Republican John Boehner, to address a joint congressional session on March 3 on the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
“It’s a strategic mistake,” Herzog said from the international stage.
“I would never operate this way as prime minister,” he added.
“I am not here to criticize my prime minister. I intend to replace him in the elections," the opposition leader said.
Indeed, that is true. It seems as if the Obama administration is doing everything it can to make that happen.