Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to speak to the U.S. Congress on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli election and without any consultation with the White House, is aimed at advancing both Netanyahu’s re-election and the proposed new set of sanctions against Iran now before the Congress.
For many months, pro-Israeli legislators and lobbyists have been threatening new sanctions on Iran while negotiations are still going on. Despite the argument that the sanctions legislation is meant to strengthen the U.S. negotiating hand, the real purpose of the proponents of sanctions has always been to ensure that no nuclear agreement can be reached.
Those proponents take their cues from Netanyahu, and that has been Netanyahu’s openly proclaimed aim ever since the negotiations with the Rouhani government of Iran began. Netanyahu has often insisted that Israel will not accept an agreement that allows Iran to retain any enrichment capability.
The Obama administration has made it clear that it would veto new sanctions legislation, arguing that it would leave the United States with no options except the threat of war. That argument prevailed in the Senate earlier, and the administration may well be able to use it again to defeat the Israeli effort to sabotage the negotiations through sanctions legislation. But there are more battles to come.