Tag Archives: Benjamin Netanyahu


BLOG 445
September 23, 2019



Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


The situation in Israel makes America’s political issues almost look like a kindergarten problem. Like a Kentucky Derby ending in a dead heat, Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz finished the campaign for a new prime minister in a deadlock. Neither candidate won the election.

Now Netanyahu is scrambling day and night to make a deal with anybody in sight to establish a new government. He needs the Knesset’s support to survive the legal process that is after him. Should he fail, Bibi will be faced with criminal charges that now hang over his head, including bribery. The charges are serious business!

What is going on?

Once a military and public hero, Netanyahu has turned into little more than a conniving, manipulative politician who will say and do anything to win. The people who depend on him don’t care about the charges. They’ll do anything to keep him at the top.

On the other hand, a voter like Mrs. Yael Shrem Senator said she was so fed up with Mr. Netanyahu’s divisiveness and what it was doing to Israel that she had thought about emigrating if he wins. She said, “Every time I open the newspaper I want to cry.”

However, Mrs. Senator said of Benny Gantz, “He’s too nice. And I don’t think he has enough experience. But listen, we have no choice.”

Interestingly enough, this woman’s statements reflect the tension in Israel. Even people who voted for Netanyahu concede he lies, manipulates, and is clearly poised to snatch land from the Palestinians. President Trump’s backing that he has campaigned on, only defines and illuminates the dark side of the man.

On the other hand, critics have said that Gantz’s Blue and White Party’s strategy was indecipherable and their message muddled. A former general, Gantz’s biggest asset was his image. His combat experience and towering statue with steely blue eyes make him highly appealing. A spokesperson for Gantz said that Israel deserves a value-driven political culture as well as a needs-driven political platform. They want the current government without Netanyahu’s destructive rhetoric and behavior.

There you have it. At this very moment as Netanyahu’s Likud party scrambles to form a government before White and Blue pulls it off, you can bet the smoke-filled back rooms are humming with hot conversations. There is a strong feeling that if Netanyahu can’t pull off forming a government, he won’t get a third chance.

At this point, who can call what’s coming next? They make movies about this stuff.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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BLOG 401 September 10, 2018 


WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the  surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

Can you believe summer is over? Maybe a little hard to realize, but footballs back and the morning breeze is decidedly a bit colder. Out here in the mountains, it was 36 degrees this morning. B-r-r-r. A sign of things to come.

You probably didn’t see much in the media this summer about a situation in Israel that has raised new ire in the region. It’s been the hot issue in Israel throughout the summer. On July 19, the Knesset  (Israel’s Parliament) passed the Nation-State Law. Applauded by Netanyahu and deplored by the Arab community, the law stated three things:

  1. Israel has the right to national self-determination and is unique to the Jewish people.
  2. Hebrew is the official language of the country. Arabic is downgraded to a “special status.”
  3. Jewish settlements are established as a national value and the state will labor to encourage and promote settlements.

Netanyahu’s far-right government applauded the legislation. Israeli Arabs considered the bill a slap in the face. One-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arabs. On the floor of the Knesset, Arab parliamentary members tore up the bill and called it apartheid. This was only the beginning of the fireworks.

In early August tens of thousands of Israeli Druze protested in Tel Aviv. Other Israeli citizens joined them. Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafaq told the crowd that Israel does not see them as equal even though they have been utterly loyal. Druze leaders had earlier met with Netanyahu and warned the new law would lead to apartheid. Netanyahu abruptly walked out of the meeting. Other Druze leaders proclaimed the law makes them second-class citizens.

Former Shin Bet director (Israel‘s internal security service) Yuval Diskin accused lawmakers of “petty and miserable political considerations.” He saw the new law as aimed at upcoming elections rather than a desire to strengthen the nation.

On the other hand, two polls taken shortly after the passage of the law found 58% of Israelis supporting the measure with only 34% opposing and 8% with no opinion. Another 61% of the Israeli population did not think the law will affect the Druze population. On the other hand, 88% of the Arab population felt it further degraded the use of the Arabic language.

There appears to be little disagreement that the passage of the legislation will give Netanyahu and his government a legislative accomplishment that will help them in the forth coming election. The wild card is whether the Supreme Court orders Netanyahu to resign because of an indictment on bribery charges.

Stay tuned. More to come.

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LOG 386 March 12, 2018

Isaiah 5: 22-23 says, “Woe to those … who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!” Israelis have always taken such biblical injunctions seriously. Now the Prime Minister is having to ponder the same.

Benjamin Netanyahu is in his fourth term as prime minister, having been in office for a total of 12 years. In response to the police charges against him, he said, “I feel a deep obligation to continue to lead Israel in a way that will ensure our future.”

However, none of Netanyahu’s statements contest the actual charges brought against him. Involved in this dispute is Arnon Milchan who the police also recommend be charged with bribery.

On February 20th, the story broke that an adviser of Netanyahu offered the job of attorney-general to former judge Hila Gerstl in 2015 in exchange for a commitment to close the criminal probe against Sara Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s wife.

Avichai Mandelbit wound up as the Attorney-General and has informed Sara Netanyahu he plans to indict her. At this time, it appears she will appear before him and try to convince him of her innocence.

Netanyahu’s “long arm” Shlomo Filber has signed a state’s witness deal as part of the police investigation. The now suspended Communications Ministry Director-General has been allegedly involved in a deal to sell telecommunications company options and influence. His testimony is expected to incriminate the Prime Minister.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak called on Netanyahu to declare incapacitation. Barak said, “These are difficult and sad hours, but it is also a moment of truth and a moment of trial for us all.”

As noted in earlier blogs, it is up to the Attorney General either to act or retreat from the police charges. This procedure can take months. During the delay there is no legal impediment to force the Prime Minister from office. Undoubtedly, there will be demonstrations, but unless such protests go over the top, Netanyahu will stay in his position.

Where’s all this going? Remember that statement by Richard Nixon, “ your president is not a crook.” That was what he said just before he was forced to resign and would have been indicted if Gerald Ford had not pardoned him. Does the Netanyahu scandal have a scent of that past debacle? Strange smells are floating through the air.

You remember that old joke? How can you tell when a politician is lying? It’s whenever his mouth is moving.

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BLOG 338 February 21, 2017

For a long time no one wanted to say the words out loud. With President Trump’s talk of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the thought has again become more current. Sh-h-h. Say it quietly. Could the two-state solution to the Israel – Palestinian problem really be dead? The appointment of David Friedman (whose father is a Rabbi) points in that direction. Is it possible that Prime Minister Netanyahu had this intention in the back of his mind all the time? Have these new settlements in East Jerusalem on land considered belonging to the Palestinians been part of an intention to kill a Palestinian state?

The last time I was in Israel, I was picked up at the airport by a man who worked in Netanyahu’s offices. As we chatted driving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he made it clear that he personally saw no future for a Palestinians state. None.

This is not new talk. As far back as May 2013, an entire issue of Moment magazine was given to a discussion of the death of a two state solution. Nine public figures ranging from Noam Chomsky to deputy defense minister of Israel Danny Danon weighed in with their view of the problem.

Although they have made political progress in the United Nations, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) is seen by their own people as inept and corrupt. The rise of Hamas and Hezbollah bear witness to the failures both political and financial of the leadership within the Palestinian camp. Many Israelis would say, “Negotiate with them? Are you kidding? There is nothing there.”

On the other hand, Israel’s continued encroachment on Palestinian claimed territory has put Israelis in a bad light. The problem is that many Israeli politicians aren’t bothered by the negativity. During the week of February 10, sixty politicians in the Knesset had voted into law the legalization of 4,000 homes built in the West Bank. Jewish communities that would otherwise be demolished are now declared legal. Surely, the wrath of the International Criminal Court will fall on them. The ultimate result will be the further isolation of Israel if the law stands.

This action personifies the current status of the conflict: Aggressive Israelis vs. Inept Palestinians. Jews believe the Bible is on their side. Palestinians maintain history supports them. And where is this going? Nowhere.

In the September 15, 2013 New York Times, Political Science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Ian Lustick wrote about his experience analyzing the Middle East political situation for the American government. His first-hand conclusion was that the two-state solution is a fantasy that impedes progress. He maintained that continued negotiations only camouflage the impossibility of a two-state solution.

With the change in the new political climate in Washington, these issues are going to surface in a new and potentially dangerous way. Keep your ear to the ground – far more will be said by politicians on all sides.

You heard it first here!



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Blog 334 January 23, 2017

I have begun a new internet radio show!
Tune in at www. blogtalkradio.com/miraclesnow

            Obama is now history while Netanyahu still treads water. But their struggles remains worth exploring. As the first month of this new year comes to a close, maybe there are trends and possibilities that are visible and important to consider.

Last week, I alerted you to the Israeli police investigation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and family. He has since responded, “long years of daily persecution against me and my family turned out yesterday to be nothing.” However, the criminal investigation has not ended. A serious charge against the Prime Minister remains unknown, but its existence was reported on the news on Channel 2 in Israel. Political leaders opposing Netanyahu claimed an interest only in the democratic process rather than a political war. Stay tuned.

Across the world at the United Nations, out-going Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his final address to the Security Council noted that Israel has been and is subject to a strong bias in the United Nations. He said, “decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports, and conferences criticizing Israel.” The Jerusalem Post published in Israel kept an account of what Ki-Moon referenced. The UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel and only eight against the Syrian regime for the massacre its own citizens during the past six years.

The United Nations’ score card has ended up being a reflection on itself rather than Israel. Even the heated condemnation of Israel just before Christmas turned into a political debacle more than a piece of helpful resolution of a problem. In the background then president-elect Trump signaled sympathy for the Jewish settlements the UN condemned. Nothing settled there!

The hot issue remains accepting or rejecting a two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israel. Many prominent Israeli politicians have already declared the idea dead. Most of the rest of the world demand Israel come to terms with a Palestinian state and that a settlement be reached. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said one thing while doing another, creating a suspicion that he wants to scuttle the two-state idea. At this point, no one is certain about what Trump thinks, but whatever policy the new President has in mind appears to pop into his head when he wakes up. Moreover President Trump appears to be able to out flip-flop Prime Minister Netanyahu who has been the ultimate switch artist up until now. Who knows where American policy is actually going?

Perhaps, 2017 is not as certain or the path as clear as we might have thought! Time to buckle up.


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Blog 332 January 16, 2017


On this Wednesday, Jan. 18, I begin a new

radio broadcast over the internet AND

there’s been a change of address:

The correct one is




     Last week we considered the current struggle in Israel as Obama leaves and Trump enters. Big changes are still in the works!

One that has not been widely reported in US media is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being questioned by Israeli police over allegations of corruption. Netanyahu denied what he called “baseless” reports of receiving gifts from outsiders. Israel’s Channel 2 TV reported he was given and accepted “favors” from businessmen. Moreover, they reported a second investigation involving his family. Longtime friend of Netanyahu, billionaire Ronald Lauder was reportedly involved. Australian billionaire James Packer supposedly gave free trips and gifts to Netanyahu’s son, Yair.

Is this possible? Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went to jail for 19 months for the same offense. Olmert became prime minister when Sharon was felled by a stroke. Could it happen again?

As the American inauguration unfolds, new media are swamped with stories of confirmation hearings and what Trump said that contradicts all predecessors. However, the shock waves have not settled from the United Nation’s Security Council resolution (passed 14 to 0) condemning Israel’s continued expansion of settlements into what has been considered Palestinian territory.

As previously noted, journalist and contributor to USA Today, David A. Andelman has raised serious questions about the road Israel is now on that could also have serious consequences for the USA. Should Israel abandon a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis, they would have on their hands an increasingly unruly and oppressed majority and the world would be on the Palestinian’s side.

South Africa can certainly tell them what happens when worldwide consumer boycotts and national sanctions are imposed. Like the unsinkable Titanic, the boat can be overturned. Right now momentum is pushing in that direction. Many Israeli’s fear that Netanyahu’s right-wing government is taking too big a gamble.

The glaring problem is that a one-state solution that could produce a globally blacklisted Israel would be toxic to the entire Middle East. And who might step into the leadership role once occupied by the United States? Take a look at Obama’s failed policies in Syria. Russia.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan dined with Rabbi Morris Friedman, the father of the next ambassador to Israel. Neither Rabbit Friedman or President Reagan were seduced by the idea of a one-state solution. Whether president-elect Trump now recognizes it or not, the one-state solution would probably be a disaster in many directions. Unfortunately, Trump is better at talking than listening.

We shall see what is ahead. Keep your set-belt fastened!

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BLOG 251 May 4, 2015

The common assumption in the West is that whatever the Prime Minister of Israel says reflects the opinion of the rest of the government. Because Israel is a democratic entity, the generals seldom disagree with the Prime Minister in public. If Netanyahu is opposed to negotiations with IRAN (NOT Israel as previously posted) , so are the generals.

This is not so.

The current disagreement over negotiations with Iran is a case in point.

The recent heated exchange in the media between Netanyahu’s speech to Congress confronting Obama’s position went off like a July 4th fireworks display but  soon subsided. The last ten days have seen little  in the media as it appears everyone has stepped back and carefully (hopefully) are assessing the actual terms of the agreement. This interim is an opportunity to notice an impasortant dynamic operating in the Israeli government.

The military and the Prime Minister are not on the same page.

In the last two years of his term, Obama will probably face growing hostility and opposition from many quarters. The politicians will provide an ample number of Obama haters and the Israeli-lovers will jump on the band wagon. There are ample reasons to be critical of many of Obama’s decision but the issue with Israel is far more complex that it is currently being portrayed.

For example, a group of American senators recently planned to meet with Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. Netanyahu knew Pardo supported the nuclear talks and canceled the meeting. When foreign affairs committee chair Bob Corker, threatened to return to the USA, Netanyahu rescinded and the meeting was held.  What the committee discovered was that Pardo didn’t agree with the Prime Minister and contented that imposing new sanctions would hurt the negotiations. As significant a leader as the head of Israel’s version of the CIA was opposed to Netanyahu’s viewpoint.

Key leaders like the ex-military intelligence chief Yalin, ex-IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, and ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halvey urged Netanyahu to back off and to work with Obama. They insisted he stop trying to scuttle the still unfinished nuclear deal. They believed Israel could not get a better deal than what was currently on the table.

And what followed? In a rare spirit of compromise, on April 14, Corker’s committee took a position that allowed Obama’s negotiations to go forward. The effect was that it split the Netanyahu-Congress alliance and sided with the Obama-Mossad position. The logic was simple. If negotiations failed, Iran would immediately go after a bomb. A US strike would only slow them down by maybe 3 years at best. The Lausanne agreement buys a decade and possibly two to stop Iran’s nuclear pursuits. A much better deal!

The point is that Netanyahu’s end around run at Congress failed at home in Israel. It helped re-elect him but revealed that his own military disagreed with his actions.

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BLOG 246 March 30, 2015

American-Israeli relationships have hit bottom. This week’s claim that Israel spied on the American-Iranian nuclear negotiations dumped another truck load of rocks on Netanyahu’s racist claims that barely won his re-election followed by a 24-hour flip flop on a two state resolution with the Palestinians. At the heart of the conflict is a collision between the American President and the Prime Minister of Israel.

What’s going on?

I have consistently attempted to stand above partisan politics in examining the Middle East. When it comes to explaining these two men –it’s tough! On one side are either Obama-haters or Obama-lovers pitched against multitudes who idolize everything that happens in Israel. Hopefully, I can get my readers to avoid any subjective perspectives and focus on the facts. So, why the traumatic collision?

Israelis tend to see Obama retreating from world leadership and withdrawing soldiers that ends in a vacuum filled by jihadists. Putin seized Crimea because of Obama’s failure to keep his threat in Syria that made Obama look like a paper tiger. They see Obama as a ‘80s progressive not to be trusted in handling Iran. His positions on the Middle East are seen as confused and contradictory. The Arabs are now forming their own army because they do not believe America can be trusted to stand with them against Iran.

On the other hand, Netanyahu is viewed as a liar that can’t be trusted to keep his word. In 2009 under intense American pressure, Netanyahu instigated a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, during the “freeze” 1,175 units were completed and 114 more were started. All in all, the Netanyahu government oversaw construction of 6,867 units in settlement areas, 2,622 were deep in Palestinian territory.  Critics in Israel noted that the $1 billion in illegal settlements could have been better spent to fight Israeli rising housing costs. America and Europe concluded he reneged on his promise and you don’t do that with Allies.

Behind such a “switching the checkers” deal, the Netanyahu politics have offered verbal deceit, talking of peace while torpedoing any two-state solution with the Palestinians. His stringent opposition to a nuclear arms treaty with Iran is seen as fundamentally wanting no deal on any terms with the Iranians. Regardless! His attempt to scuttle the negotiations is now suspect in Washington because he has overstated his oppositions hoping that Americans will not see through the smoke screen.

A week after the cease-fire during the Gaza war, Israel seized 1,000 acres in the West Bank for Israeli settlers. Peace Now, an Israeli group, called this the biggest land grab in over 30 years. The Netanyahu government would claim they were teaching the terrorist a lesson. The international community’s response was that’s not the legal way to teach a lesson.

The flip-flop on a two-state solution was viewed as a last minute attempt to save his election that worked in Israel and resulted in a re-evaluation in Washington of how relations between the two countries would be managed in the future. Not good for Netanyahu’s government nor Israel. A United Nations resolution would set a time table for withdrawal from Palestinians territories, a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, and East Jerusalem as their capital – all defeats for Netanyahu and Israel.

Will matters between Washington and Israel improve? Probably not until Netanyahu is gone. At this point, he probably will not be trusted again by the powers in Washington and Europe.

A most sad situation.

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BLOG 245 March 23, 2015

Twenty-four hours after winning the election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu threw the world a curve ball. Bibi snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. A dear friend of mine always says, “All politicians are liars and thieves.” Netanyahu certainly didn’t help that image.

Many thoughtful Jewish people are dismayed and angry at how this election was won. About to lose, he played the racist card. Netanyahu screamed that the Arabs are coming to the polls “in droves” and the Jews better pull together and vote. Of course, Arab citizens  have a right to vote. Such a tactic came straight out of the Jim Crow days in the Deep South. Arabs, Jews, and the White House rebuked such a tactic.

Worst of all, Netanyahu denied his support for a two-state solution and suggested the Palestinians could lump it. Certainly, there are many Jews in Israel who feel this way but the rest of the world disagrees. Netanyahu’s statements further alienated Europe that has also become a rocky road for Israel. The United States responded that they would no longer protect Israel in the United Nations debates on the Palestinians. Twenty-four hours later Netanyahu withdrew those positions after the election was over.

How bad can it get?

In his last minute attempt to win, Bibi has demonstrated it can get worse. Regardless of 47 congressional signatures on a letter to Iran, he has seriously damaged his currently shaky personal relationship with the United States. The strong Jewish voice and the right-wing unequivocal support of Israel as well as the pressure of the USA’s need of an important Middle East ally will definitely not end the diplomatic, military, and security  connection with Israel. However, the Prime Minister’s office may soon discover the line is busy when he attempts to call the United States.

Netanyahu’s trip to speak to Congress put the Obama administration on the defense. Netanyahu’s twenty-four hour flip-flop amazingly switched the chairs. Obama has come out on top because of Netanyahu’s own maneuvers. While the Prime Minister was making gains in his opposition to a treaty with Iran, he has now spent most of the capital. It appears the West will close a deal with Iran whether Bibi likes it or not.

As damaging as the foregoing is, what Netanyahu has done to his own image is no small matter. No longer does he appear to be a statesman sounding a trumpet of alarm. He has come off as a predictable politician that will say anything to win. At this point, he may even have trouble forming a government as local politicians back away, forcing him to develop a cabinet from religious and nationalistic groups. Such a result would further deepen the racist charge against his government. Moshe Kahlon, the other big winner in the election, may be pulled into the new cabinet. However, Kahlon and Netanyahu dislike each other and that tension could bring down a new government quickly.

With ISIS functioning around 20 miles from the Israeli border, the issues are super serious. Netanyahu’s next moves may be the most important in his political life with dramatic effects on the future. He’d best think carefully and be cautious in what he says this time.

Is winning at all cost worth it? History answers no.

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BLOG 243 MARCH 9, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington came at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner – not the Obama administration. With Netanyahu only weeks from a re-election vote, his visit has been protested in Israel as well as by the current administration. The Western nuclear negotiators on Iran put out leaks to the media that ran from Netanyahu is a liar to a disruptive element for the White House. On the other hand, Israel maintains publically that if a bad deal is struck in Iran, their fate will end in total annihilation.

How do we sort out these contradictions? Possibly by considering what is behind each side’s position. One of the lingering criticisms of the Obama era will be the withdrawal of America from an international leadership position. As we now know, the vacuum was not filled by “good-guys.” Putin’s march into the Crimea following Obama’s backing away from his red-line in Syria is such an example. America appears to be back-tracking from its former role of leadership in maintaining world order.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Israelis recognize that radical Islam comes into two varieties: Shi’ites and Sunnis. They worry more about the Shi’ites because they have a well-entrenched state in Iran that is hot pursuit of The Bomb. The potential capacities of this group are real. Israel lives daily with that fact.

The U.S. government continues to point to the United Nations as the enforcer of world peace. America resorts to the UN in debates and discussions of possible actions. Does anyone really believe the UN can enforce world peace? No.

Israel points to the fact that UN has repeatedly sided with the Palestinians and ignored such realities as Hezbollah shooting thousands of rockets into Israel. Study groups and committees within the UN have been labeled anti-Semitic. Israelis (as well as most of the rest of the world) see the UN as going nowhere when it comes to war and peace.

There is with Shi’ite Islam a “quietism” tradition that believes politics and religion don’t mix.  This ends up with the idea that ultimate leadership should come from the Muslim clergy. (i.e. Iran.) The Israelis certainly don’t see that system working out on their behalf.

Obama recently called the attacks in France “senseless violence.” Israel would call it “logical violence.” They see it as having definite reasoning.  For example, the New York Times refused to publish cartoons that Muslims protested while publishing cartoons that are offensive to Christians and Jews. An Islamic purpose was accomplished. This contradiction displays how what may seem pointless can mean a great deal in the Muslim world.

The bottom line is negotiations to end nuclear pursuit in Iran would be Obama’s major accomplishment in his second term. The agreement would be his legacy. On the other hand, the Israelis believe Iran has no intention of signing a treaty that halts their pursuit of The Bomb on a permanent basis. This view seems them as only stalling for time.

Does this amount to a problem between Israel and the United States? Big time.

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