In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.It is clear that Natanyahu isn't playing politics, Israeli or American, since the political risks of this speech are huge. The only reason that makes sense is because he honestly believes that a nuclear deal with Iran endangers his nation and his people.
There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.
Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America's leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials.
The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel's March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.
Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who have both previously addressed AIPAC, will be out of the country on foreign travel that appears to have been arranged to make them unavailable to speak. Biden will be visiting Uruguay and Guatemala on a trip that was announced after Netanyahu's speech was scheduled, while the State Department announced abruptly this week that Kerry will be traveling to as-yet-determined destinations for the duration of the AIPAC conference.
Obama spoke to AIPAC in 2012, while he was in the midst of his re-election campaign.
The White House reaction, on the other hand, is the definition of pettiness and peevishness. It is so juvenile as to be embarrassing to every American.