Since mid-May, there’s been a sparsely reported fact underpinning the Israeli government’s position on the Iran nuclear talks and eventual deal: their policy stance is for sale, and the right amount of US military aid would make intense Israeli lobbying simply go away.
Israeli officials have admitted as much in local media, though of course much of the deal is contingent on them not publicly having to disavow their previous stance. There has even been semi-public debate between the foreign and defense ministries over the deal, with the military wanting to get the deal done soon, and the foreign ministry believing they can get more by holding out.
In his conversation with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu today, President Obama is said to have brought the matter up directly, hoping to get the ball rolling on the deal. Netanyahu was not interested in talking, in part because he wants to keep the negotiations quiet.
But Netanyahu is also seen favoring the Foreign Ministry’s argument, that Israel can get more billions out of the US by holding out and threatening to kill the deal with lobbying to the US Congress. This is a risky gamble, however.
While many seem to be treating the Israel Lobby as nigh-omnipotent, it seems a real long shot that they could actually sabotage the deal in this manner. If it becomes more obvious they’ll fail, the US will have less and less reason to bargain with Israel on this “aid” package. If the rhetoric coming out of Netanyahu’s office continues to be so anti-Obama, it may also convince him that they don’t need to make any payment to Israel at all.