Obama has been unpersuasive on Iran sanctions issue

President Barack Obama and U.S. officials were completely blindsided by the announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to Washington to address a joint session of Congress this spring -- a move that's rattled the White House and diplomatic officials.

The announcement from House Speaker John Boehner's office this week came after several high-level interactions between U.S. and Israeli officials, including a phone call between the President and Netanyahu and a multi-hour meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, a senior administration official told CNN.

Netanyahu's snub has once again soured relations between the two world leaders, but U.S. officials insist the tensions won't affect U.S. support for Israel.

The Boehner announcement came just over a week after Obama spoke over the phone with Netanyahu and urged him not to lobby in favor of new Iran sanctions, "asking for some space," a senior administration official said. But the hawkish Israeli prime minister has a track record of supporting tougher sanctions against Iran and he's expected to make that case when he addresses Congress in March.

Obama and other world leaders negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have firmly argued against a sanctions bill from Congress, which they say would unravel a delicate international coalition and tank negotiations.

"We asked the Israelis in private and public to sit tight and the President made clear if a deal wasn't reached he would be the first in line advocating for more sanctions," the official said.
Obama's problem is not Netanyahu, but his own lack of progress in the negotiation and the complete distrust of the Iranians.  He and a few others trying to get a deal making up a small minority of people who think the Iranians would live up to any deal they might agree to.  It is the lack of trust of the Iranians and of Obama that is leaving the White House isolated on the issue and facing a Congress that is more likely to agree with the Israeli side of the argument.

Iran apparently does not believe Obama either.


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