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Since the Iran nuclear agreement was signed on 14 July, Israel has consistently defined it as an existential threat. Demonstrating once again that Israel simply lacks the military capability to eliminate this alleged peril, the Netanyahu government has instead sought to scuttle the accord – since adopted by the United Nations Security Council – by invalidating the American signature on it. In what is perhaps the most intensive and divisive campaign ever undertaken by Israel on US soil, unregistered foreign agent the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israel’s Congressional allies have spared no effort – including accusations of appeasement and voluminous holocaust imagery – to muster the votes required to force President Obama to renounce the agreement.
Israel’s international influence has other sources and is not going to evaporate overnight. But it does make the work of its diplomats and emissaries more complicated, and will subject their extravagant claims of owning Washington to greater scrutiny. This will particularly be the case if the Obama administration finally decides to punish Israel for its brazen interference in US domestic politics in recent years. Those who have traditionally looked to Israel to assist their relations with Washington may well begin to look for other friends to help it obtain American benefits.
Within Israel, commentators – including many viscerally opposed to the Iran deal – have been condemning Netanyahu for gambling with Israel’s greatest assets – the strategic relationship with the United States and the global conviction that it forms the Romeo and Juliet of international relations. While such criticisms are overblown, Israel’s debacle does provide an ideal opening for the Palestinians to reclaim the international stature they have lost since Oslo and particularly in the decade since the death of Yasir Arafat. In order to do so, however, they first need to overcome their petty internal disputes, and once again become a factor that unifies the region in their support and thus deploys its collective clout on their behalf.
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