Who: Matthew Duss, President, Foundation for Middle East Peace
Mitchell Plitnick, Program Director, Foundation for Middle East Peace
Foundation for Middle East Peace Statement: Unanswered Questions
Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference today was a precursor to his much-anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow.
While much has been made about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United States, the political fallout, and its implications for the Israeli elections on March 17th, what we found most notable about his address today was what was not mentioned. Here are several questions we were left asking, and what we’ll be looking for during tomorrow’s joint session of Congress:
- Why no mention of the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians? It is clear that this is not something Netanyahu considers pressing, despite the weight given to this issue by the international community and today’s announcement by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that it plans to file its first complaint against Israel with the International criminal Court on April 1. The Saudis have also made progress on the Palestinian issue a condition of cooperation with Israel on Iran.
- Netanyahu touched on the need for bipartisan support for Israel in his speech, but minimized his own actions in undermining that bipartisanship by saying it was a “misperception.” Yet it is clear from statements from many leading Democrats, 50 of whom have now announced that they will not attend, that his speech tomorrow has struck a blow to bipartisan support of Israel. How is he planning to materially address this issue, or is he not planning to at all?
- If Netanyahu succeeds at scuttling a deal, how does he suggest the United States and Israel deal with the prospect of a nuclear Iran? Netanyahu has advocated a stronger military threat and increased sanctions. Yet walking away from a deal at this stage could collapse the international consensus that has brought us to this point. Why then does Netanyahu want to obstruct this path?
- What are the implications for U.S. and Israeli security if Netanyahu succeeds at undermining these talks?
FMEP experts Matthew Duss and Mitchell Plitnick are available for commentary and interviews on Netanyahu’s speech and the issues involved in it.