More Bibigate: Conflicting reports over Iran Negotiations

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Israeli Prime Minister at COPMAJO Jerusalem Conference, Feb. 16, 2015

Source: PMO

More Bibigate appears to be afoot.  The Obama Administration and Jewish Congressional members are endeavoring to plant suspicions that Netanyahu is abusing alleged confidential information in briefings on the P5+1 negotiations . This could  reveal information that might upend achievement of a final agreement.  Vox.com  reported:

  1. US officials believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized his government to release secret details of the US nuclear negotiations with Iran to the Israeli press, according to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
  2. The alleged leaks would appear designed to undermine the negotiations, which Israel opposes.
  3. In response, according to Ignatius, the US has decided to “reduce the exchange of sensitive information about the Iran talks” with Israel.

Vox.com bewails,  “This would be a major new low in the US-Israel breakdown.  This would be bad for everyone — including people who want a deal with Iran.” 

Of course what the progressive on-line ‘news’ outlet is referring to are the desires of major international companies that see enormous potential in energy development and trade projects arising from the lifting of US and international sanctions against Iran.  

According to  Ignatius, who is in Tel Aviv at a Institute for National Security Studies conference,  the Jerusalem Post (JP)  reported   allegations stemming  from an Israeli Channel 2 report on Sunday evening. It stated  that the briefings on the Iran nuclear negotiations  would stop in view of Netanyahu’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress scheduled for March 3rd.  The JP reports denials from  both State Department and White House National Security officials that the nearly weekly briefings have not been stopped:

“Conversations continue with Israel on the Iran nuclear negotiations,” one senior State Department official said. “Under Secretary [of State for Political Affairs Wendy] Sherman met with Israeli NSA Cohen and Minister for Intelligence and Strategic Planning Steinitz in Munich and will see NSA Cohen again this week.”

The official noted that the Iran talks were, “obviously,” the main topic of conversation.

“And Secretary [of State John] Kerry continues his conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu about this issue, as has always been the case,” the official continued.

The White House also rejected the report, noting Cohen’s upcoming meeting next week at the White House with National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

“This report is patently false,” National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey told the Post. “We also continue our frequent and routine contact at various professional levels within the intelligence, military, and diplomatic spheres.”

Adding to  the swirl of Bibigate  were comments from US House Speaker John Boehner on Fox News Sunday to the effect that:

“I wanted to make sure that there was no interference,” Boehner said, referring to the White House. There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity. The fact is that we had every right to do what we did… I wanted the prime minister to come here.

Ever wonder why Israeli PM Netanyahu accepted an invitation to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on March 3rd?  A check on the Jewish calendar revealed that is the eve of Purim,  when Jews read from the Megillah of Esther about an ancient Iranian plot by a descendent of  the nefarious Amalek, the agagite Haman . He was a vizier to Persian Emperor Xerxes, Achashverosh.  Haman and his ten sons were engaged in a plot to destroy all the Jews in the ancient Persian kingdom . However,  the  heroism of Queen Esther, Jewish consort of the tipsy Persian monarch , and her uncle Mordechai, who  warned  Jews in  127 provinces to rise up and destroy their mortal enemies.   Haman and his ten sons  were hung by order of the Persian monarch for their dastardly plot.  Curiously, it is the only time when Jews who shale noisemakers at the reading of the name of the villain Haman are permitted to get tipsy. Purim is also celebrated with costumes  based the characters in the story.

That wasn’t lost on Nobel laureate, holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel.  Rabbi Schmuley Boteach of  This World   took out full page ads in the New York Times , Washington  Post and other leading  newspapers  containing a message from Wiesel in  support  of Netanyahu’s  proposed speech to a Joint Session of Congress.  The Wiesel  ad draws  attention to the ancient Persian threat and the contemporary one Iran’s striving for nuclear breakout to  develop nuclear weapons to threaten Israel with extinction.   Wiesel is cited  by PJUP in the ad saying:

“As one who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent?”

Addressing President Barack Obama, he adds: “I plead with you to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made. Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver his urgent message. Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”

“On the day before Purim the Prime Minister of Israel will address Congress…I intend to be there,” Wiesel says about Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress. “Should we not show our support for what might be the last clear warning before a terrible deal is struck?”

In an interview with Israel Hayom, Wiesel strongly sided with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to address the U.S. Congress, despite controversy and White House disapproval.

“I think that Netanyahu raises public awareness, and that is very important at this time. I am not the only one who thinks that the Iranians must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, but some people need to hear more and get a better understanding of the situation. Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, and as such there is no one more suited to go to Congress and speak about this issue.”.

He further noted that the issue is too serious for it to become a political issue. “Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, and as such he has a historic role. Many, like me, view his upcoming speech to Congress as a historic act.”

In a show of determination, today  The Times of Israel reported Netanyahu  in a speech  in Jerusalem  at a conference of  the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said, “ If  an Iran deal is good, why hide it from Israel?”  He went on to  call his “upcoming March 3 speech before the US Congress an “obligation,” and  he would “do everything in my power to prevent the conclusion of a bad deal that could threaten the survival of the State of Israel.”

Doubtless Bibigate will continue virtually up to the day and beyond Netanyahu’s speech from the rostrum in the US House on the eve of Purim.

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