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For a few minutes of vanity

Mar 05,2015 - Last updated at Mar 05,2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the US Congress on Tuesday may have scored him a few points with the electorate at home, but it may end up having damaged Israel’s standing in the US.

Netanyahu went to Washington to spite President Barack Obama and repeat his oft-repeated warnings about Iran’s bomb — minus the “famous” diagram.

But while warning of doom and gloom, for the umpteenth’s time, and perorating about Iran’s nuclear programme as a matter of principle, Netanyahu had nothing to offer by way of settling the Iranian nuclear file.

The Israeli leader, who would rather talk about Iran than about bread and butter issues in Israel or the inhuman occupation of the Palestinians, knows that he wants no deal to be reached by Iran and the P5+1 powers negotiating with Tehran.

He may have wished to soften the negativity, talking about a “better” deal, rather than no deal, this time, but he failed to spell out what that would entail to the kowtowing US congressmen who gave standing ovations for a stale speech, reinforcing the belief of many that decisions on scores of issues are controlled by the pro-Israel lobby.

In Netanyahu’s mind, any deal with Iran is a “path to a nuclear armed Iran”.

The pot calling the kettle black.

Not that Iran is anywhere near the famed bomb, according to intelligence services, including Israeli.

By continuing to hammer the point that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, Netanyahu is undermining his credibility.

His address to the US Congress left many, friends and foes alike, confused.

His reception, both official and popular, was not something to be proud of. If anything, it was in many cases hostile.

Placards made clear that Netanyahu was not welcome, that he did not represent all Jews, contrary to his declaration, and that Israel should stop the occupation of the Palestinians, the last apartheid regime in the world.

Netanyahu’s speech, more for Israeli consumption than for the US Congress, was intended to show a strong, defiant leader who can stand up to the US president.

He may have convinced some of his countrymen that he is the leader they want, but his brazen appearance clearly angered many in the US, his country’s staunchest supporter and ally.

Eventually, Netanyahu may have done more damage to his country through his selfish pursuit of a few more votes at home.

History will decide whether it was worth it.

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