According to Politico, Boehner told a Republican meeting that Obama “expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran.” Boehner’s response: “Hell, no!”
Some Israeli commentators recognized the danger of being drawn into a domestic political dispute in Washington in which Obama had set the terms as a choice between war and peace. He vowed to veto any new sanctions on Iran while negotiations were ongoing, warning that these could torpedo talks and put the United States on a path to yet another war in the Middle East.
“The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom,” Obama said Tuesday.
That warning raises alarms over Netanyahu’s intervention, just weeks before he faces his own electorate in an election that has proved more challenging than expected.
“Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is being brought into a showdown over Iran between the U.S. President and a GOP-dominated Congress, and the U.S. Congress is being brought into Netanyahu's re-election campaign in Israel,” said former State Department official Reza Marashi, now with the National Iranian-American Council, in an email to Al Jazeera. “The Iran issue is now defined as a war or peace issue in the U.S., and it is therefore troubling to see Israel's Prime Minister working with Republicans in Congress to take ownership of an American domestic debate.”
Some Israeli commentators shared that concern, although Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat and top adviser to two prime ministers, suggested that “this has nothing to do with Israeli elections” but “it will if the White House retaliates.” However, Pinkas, told Al Jazeera in an email, “The GOP [is] enlisting him against Obama. This is more dangerous and explosive than ‘meddling in politics’. This could, potentially, affect U.S. policy on Iran.”
Haaretz analyst Chemi Shalev was concerned by Netanyahu’s political gamble: “By accepting Boehner’s invitation, Netanyahu is allowing himself to be used as a Republican instrument in the GOP’s ongoing clash with Obama, a position that he already holds by virtue of his 2012 intervention on behalf of Mitt Romney,” Shalev wrote. “He is openly aligning himself with legislation that Obama claims will derail diplomacy with Tehran. And if Obama’s predictions are borne out by events, he is exposing himself to the claim that he was a main protagonist in driving the United States to the brink of war or to war itself with a major Middle Eastern power, to the chagrin of American public opinion, which opposes such a move.”
Then again, if the custodians of Israel’s security are — as the Bloomberg report suggests — once again stepping forward to rein in their Prime Minister’s alarmism over Iran, that could function as effective counter-messaging to Boehner and Netanyahu March 3 intervention.
(Update: The White House's denying Netanyahu a meeting with President Obama, and the response from key congressional Democrats such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who slammed Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu as "inappropriate", appear to confirm the fears of Israeli observers that the prime minister's appearance on Capitol Hill has put U.S.-Israel relations at the center of a domestic political storm.)