NYT slams Netanyahu for 'sabotaging' Obama's Iran efforts

NYT slams Netanyahu for 'sabotaging' Obama's Iran efforts
Wed Oct 2, 2013 12:28:42

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to "sabotage the best chance" to restore relations between the West and Iran, the New York Times has said in an editorial following Netanyahu's General Assembly address.

Netanyahu “seems eager for a fight. But it could be disastrous if he and his supporters in Congress were so blinded by distrust of Iran that they exaggerate the threat, block President Obama from taking advantage of new diplomatic openings and sabotage the best chance to establish a new relationship since the 1979 Iranian revolution sent American-Iranian relations into the deep freeze," the editorial stated.

“Netanyahu has hinted so often of taking military action to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that he seems eager for a fight. He did it again at the United Nations on Tuesday, warning that Israel reserved the right to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if it deemed that Iran was close to producing nuclear weapons," it said.

Addressing the General Assembly on Tuesday, Netanyahu countered Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani's "charm offensive" by urging the international community not to ease sanctions on Iran.

President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani held a historic phone call last week. Iran and six major nations will hold talks in Geneva on Oct. 15-16 over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Times added that "Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani have hardline domestic audiences and allies that they will need to consider and cajole as they undertake this effort to resolve the nuclear dispute and develop a new relationship. For Mr. Obama, that means working closely with Israel and helping Mr. Netanyahu see that sabotaging diplomacy, especially before Iran is tested, only makes having to use force more likely. That would be the worst result of all."

Netanyahu also came under fire by former White House press secretary Robert Gibs, who said the speech was typical of Netanyahu and was directed at the domestic audience in Israel.

In an interview with MSNBC he said, "I don't think Israel helps itself in some of the rhetoric that you heard from the prime minister, particularly the notion that the world may have forgotten the 20th Century.”

"I don't think that's the case. I don't think that the imagery that Israel will stand alone is the case. Obama has no intention of letting the Iranians off the hook. I don't think Prime Minister Netanyahu does himself a huge amount of good with that speech," he said.

British journalist Robert Fisk did not spare criticism either. In an op-ed at The Independent newspaper, he wrote: "These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war."

Fisk says Netanyahu "did a little groveling" at the UN, no longer calling "for a total end to all Iranian nuclear activities" but rather demanding a shut down only of Iran’s “military nuclear program."

"What we do know is that when Mr. Rouhani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas.”

"Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word." Fisk had criticism of Obama as well, saying he did not go far enough in overtures to Rouhani, calling the phone call with Rouhani "pathetic" and that a hand shake would have been more appropriate.

BA/BA

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