‘Vote Netanyahu, the global states­man’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

IS­RAELI DIPLO­MATS found it dif­fi­cult this week to ar­tic­u­late ex­actly what it was that Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Netanyahu was try­ing to achieve in his whirl­wind trip to Ber­lin, Paris and London.

One of­fi­cial said that the trip was aimed at “in­creas­ing pres­sure on the Ira­nian regime”, but it was un­clear how much more pres­sure could be ap­plied from Europe. The lead­ers of Bri­tain, France and Ger­many con­tinue jointly to sup­port the Iran deal, at least in words, but none are un­der any il­lu­sion that they can keep it alive in the face of new Amer­i­can sanc­tions.

The stam­pede of Euro­pean com­pa­nies out of Iran is tes­ta­ment to the weak­ness of the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. If Iran de­cides to stick to the terms of the deal for now, it will be for its own rea­sons.

An­other mem­ber of Mr Netanyahu’s en­tourage con­fi­dently es­ti­mated that “80 per cent of the work on Iran has al­ready been done”. Whether the re­main­ing 20 can be achieved through Europe was less clear.

In pub­lic, none of the three Euro­pean lead­ers Mr Netanyahu met would give him what he wanted.

In their re­marks they all ex­pressed their con­tin­ued sup­port for the deal, but the mood mu­sic was much more to his lik­ing — tough con­dem­na­tions for Iran’s ac­tions in Syria, with the is­sue of Gaza brought up only in pass­ing along­side firm com­mit­ments to Is­rael’s right to se­cure its bor­ders.

Mr Netanyahu had not ex­pected more.

In a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day, Em­manuel Macron was asked about a dif­fi­cult phone con­ver­sa­tion he had last week with Pres­i­dent Trump on his lat­est de­ci­sions to im­pose tar­iffs on Euro­pean ex­ports.

“As Bis­marck used to say, if we ex­plained to peo­ple how sausages were made, it’s un­likely they’d keep eat­ing them,” he an­swered. It seems the Euro­pean lead­ers re­alise they are up against a Netanyahu-Trump joint force and they have more chance of reach­ing some kind of ac­com­mo­da­tion with Mr Netanyahu, who at least speaks their lan­guage of states­man­ship.

Back in Jerusalem, one cab­i­net min­is­ter was dis­mis­sive. “Bibi is pro­duc­ing the footage for his elec­tion broad­casts,” he said.

“This is what you will be see­ing next year dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign: Vote for Netanyahu, the global states­man.”

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