When radical Islamists attack U.S. diplomatic installations in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, murdering the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, that’s dominant news. But another major story about the Mideast also warrants serious attention this week.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is upset about what he perceives as shaky support from President Barack Obama on the rising threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
According to Israeli officials, the White House even rejected Mr. Netanyahu’s request to meet with Mr. Obama when he visits the U.S. late this month.
The White House denied the alleged snub Tuesday, and later said that President Obama called and spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday night “as part of their ongoing consultations.”
Yet the White House also confirmed Tuesday that Mr. Obama doesn’t expect to meet with Mr. Netanyahu while he’s in the U.S., citing scheduling conflicts.
And even before the flap over whether the president will deign to see the prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu was expressing consternation over recent American signals on Iran’s persisting pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.
For instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu, though not naming Secretary Clinton, struck back sharply during a news conference Tuesday:
“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs.”
Iran’s fanatical leaders are also continuing to voice their long-standing zeal for Israel’s destruction.
President Obama has said that he “has Israel’s back” and won’t allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
However, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS Tuesday that Iran is only “a little more than a year” away from making a nuclear weapon.
And Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly — and understandably — insisted that Israel will be “the master of its fate” and retains the right “to defend itself, by itself,” if needed.
Yes, President Obama has been busy lately, not just reacting to radical Islamist violence against our diplomatic sites in the Mideast but seeking re-election. After making a Rose Garden statement on the embassy attacks Wednesday, he returned to the campaign trail by flying to Las Vegas.
Three days earlier, he had even found time to tape a 10-minute interview with Miami radio star DJ Laz, aka “Pimp with the Limp.”
Despite such pressing obligations, the president should find time for more than a make-up phone call to Mr. Netanyahu.
He also should meet with the prime minister when he soon returns to the U.S.
And America’s president should answer Israel’s prime minister fair questions about how long he must wait as Iran advances its ominous nuclear ambitions.