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Israeli bid to divide US Govt. exposed
Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:45:17 GMT
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US Congress has intensified tensions between US president and Israeli prime minister.
An invitation by US Republican lawmakers for the Israeli prime minister to address the Congress has exposed an Israeli plan to divide senior officials within the US government.

The Republican invitation for Tel Aviv's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a high-profile speech at a joint session of the US Congress next month underscores standing rifts between US President Barack Obama and the Israeli premier and sets in motion a “bizarre diplomatic race” over which party will be the first to offer a plan to reignite the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian talks, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

“America and Israel are the closest of friends and allies, and we look forward to hearing the prime minister's views on how we can continue working together for peace, freedom and stability,” said Republican Speaker of the US House of Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio in a statement announcing his intent to invite Netanyahu.

While the Obama administration has been pondering in recent months whether the US president should deliver a major address on the growing upheaval in the region and the Arab world, Netanyahu, distrustful of any Obama plan, “has been considering whether to pre-empt the White House with a proposal of his own, before a friendly US Congress,” the times reports, citing remarks by American officials and diplomats in the region.

The report quotes former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy as saying that whoever first lays out a plan will gain the upper hand. “If Bibi (Netanyahu) went first and didn't lay out a bold peace plan, it would be harder for Obama to say, actually, despite what you said to Congress and their applause, this is what I think you should do,” the paper writes, quoting Levy, who currently heads the US-based New America Foundation.

The article also states that the “political gamesmanship” reflects what 'officials' have described as “personal animosity between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.”

The report also makes clear that the growing Obama-Netanyahu tensions as well as the intensifying rivalry between Republican and Democratic lawmakers to show total loyalty to the Israeli regime, stems from efforts by powerful pro-Israeli lobby groups in the US.

The Netanyahu address in the US Congress, according to the times article, “gives American elected leaders the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their support for Israel before the politically crucial Israel lobby.”

Meanwhile, national security expert Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress has accused Republican lawmakers of trying to “make Israel a partisan wedge issue.”

“And that's bad for Israel, and that's bad for the United States,” said Katulis, adding that the Obama administration “would never … oppose the notion of an Israeli leader addressing Congress.”
Pro-Israeli lobby groups in the US reportedly provide financial and election campaign support to over 90 percent of American legislators.

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