It’s been a bad week for the Israel lobby, and we’re not even talking about Netanyahu’s spectacle on Capitol Hill.
First, talks with Iran have adjourned, but reports are that the two sides are close to a deal. The New York Times says that Obama suggests a deal is “imminent.”
Asked if an agreement was imminent, Mr. Obama seemed to suggest it may be. “I think it is fair to say that there is an urgency because we now have been negotiating for well over a year,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said a deal was “very close”, telling NBC that he and his team were prepared to carry on working through the Persian New Year celebration of Nowruz starting on March 21.
Second, a leftleaning student of the conflict, Rob Malley, is getting a leading White House policy position seven years after Obama was forced to distance himself from Malley. “White House names Israel critic to top Mideast post,” The Times of Israel laments. Malley will be the National Security Council’s Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. For the last year he has served at the NSC as a senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States.
Malley has said that only international pressure will make Israel do anything about the occupation:
If it is delegitimization Israelis fear, then it must be delegitimization that will make them budge. Faced with the prospect of isolation, Israel might be persuaded to end its occupation…
US involvement has fed Palestinian delusions and shielded Israel.
Susan Rice says: “There could be no better successor to Phil [Gordon] than Rob Malley, who is already one of my most trusted advisers and ideally placed to provide a seamless transition.”
Back in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama threw Malley under the bus because he had met with Hamas when he was a staffer at the International Crisis Group. ABC reported then: “Malley has been criticized in the past as insufficiently supportive of Israel — the New Republic’s Marty Peretz has defended Obama as pro-Israel but assailed Malley.”
And seven years later, Marty Peretz is marginalized and Malley is in.
Third, just a few weeks after he ripped the President’s State of the Union message as “talking points from Tehran,” N.J. Senator Robert Menendez is going to be indicted by the Justice Department on corruption charges, various media are predicting. The NYT says charges will come within a month. CNN:
The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.
People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with charges, CNN first reported. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in Iowa that the charges are politically motivated.
“The announcement this week by the Justice Department that they were bringing charges against Bob Menendez — I will point out that the timing seems awfully coincidental that … in the very week that Bob Menendez showed incredible courage to speak out and call out President Obama for the damage that his policy is doing to our national security … the Justice Department announces they’re moving forward with the criminal prosecution,” Cruz said.“It raises the suggestion to other Democrats that if you dare part from the Obama White House, that criminal prosecutions will be used potentially as a political weapon against you as well,” he added…
“The timing is curious,” Cruz continued. “This investigation has been going on for over a year and yet the very week they announce a pending indictment comes within hours after Sen. Menendez showing courage to speak out against President Obama’s dangerous foreign policy that is risking the national security of this country.”