Netanyahu the Spoilsport at the White House and U.N. This Week — But with Intelligence Files

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will see President Obama on Monday (Sept. 30) — aiming to remind Obama that Iran is still dangerous and is lying about having no intention to build nuclear bombs.

Netanyahu (BBC April 2013) — “Debbie Downer” at the White House?

Most of that will be behind closed doors at the White House, but some of his message — and perhaps also Obama’s reaction — will be declared publicly.

Netanyahu will likely grant interviews on American TV on Monday, and on Tuesday he’ll have his turn to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York — from the same podium used by Presidents Obama and Rouhani last week.

The bulk of the conversation, in private between Obama and Netanyahu, is expected to include an intelligence file handed to the President by Israel’s leader. The Mossad apparently was tasked with quickly gathering evidence that Iran — despite the hints of a deal by President Hasan Rouhani — secretly plans to continue working on nuclear weapons.

Israeli newspapers are predicting that Netanyahu’s strong skepticism will not be welcome in the United States.

The Jerusalem Post says Netanyahu will play the role of “spoilsport.”  And Haaretz, surprisingly, calls the prime minister “Debbie Downer” — yes, written in Hebrew letters — and goes on to explain how that was a comedic character on NBC’s Saturday Night Live who always sucked the pleasure out of any situation.

The point, as Haaretz writes, is that Barack Obama just had his best week in foreign affairs — gaining key concessions on Syria and Iran — perhaps averting a war in the Middle East — but the little, yet influential, ally Israel will sound a dissonant chord.

Or will it? A member of Knesset in Netanyahu’s Likud Party, Tzahi Hanegbi, told the American Jewish liberal activist group J Street (at its annual conference of about 3,000 in Washington this weekend): “We’re not party poopers, because we’re not sure there’s a reason for a party.”

September 29, 2013

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