Obama dares Netanyahu: Present a better alternative on Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Barack Obama (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)

US President Barack Obama says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to present a better alternative to the negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran.

“I’ve repeatedly asked both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to present me a reasonable, realistic plan that would achieve exactly what this deal achieves, and I have yet to get a response,” he said in an interview with CNN aired on Sunday.

Obama made the comment as opposition to the July 14 agreement is mounting on Capitol Hill, where several Democrats have broken with the White House on the issue.

Senator Charles Schumer, an influential Jewish Democrat from New York, announced his opposition to the Iran agreement last week.

Obama has launched an aggressive campaign of private entreaties and public advocacy to rally enough Democratic support to preserve the nuclear accord ahead of a September vote on it in the Republican-led Congress.

AIPAC, the most potent pro-Israel lobbying group in the US, is spending about $40 million to run TV advertisements in 35 states urging legislators to vote down the agreement. It is leaning hard on Democrats as most Republicans are already against the Iran deal.

Nearly 60 legislators--22 Democrats and 36 Republicans-- from the US House of Representatives will travel to Israel this month, which is being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, the charitable arm of AIPAC.

Obama said on CNN that he understood why Netanyahu and the Israeli public would be “suspicious” about the nuclear pact, and pledged US commitment to Israel’s security.

“I’ve been very clear about the fact that if Israel were attacked by Iran, for example, there’s no doubt that not just me, but any US administration, would do everything that we needed to do to make sure that Israel was protected,” he said.

At a speech at American University in Washington, DC, last week, Obama lambasted the opponents of the Iran agreement as “lobbyists” disseminating the same hawkish rhetoric that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Obama delivers a speech about the Iran nuclear agreement at American University in Washington, DC, on August 5, 2015. (AFP photo)

Netanyahu’s efforts to scuttle the nuclear agreement in the US Congress is causing concern, even among the critics of the deal, that the campaign could further damage an alliance key to Israel’s security.

“I have told him [Netanyahu], and I’m telling him again, that struggles, even those that are just, can ultimately come at Israel’s expense,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said last week. “We are largely isolated in the world.”



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