12 of November is Hassan Rouhani’s birthday. He turned 65 today.
And with minutes to go before the end of his birthday, he got a present from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The present came in the form of a tender for the construction of 20,000 settlement homes by the Israeli government.
This is surely going to put more distance between the state of Israel and its biggest and most loyal ally, the United States. This something which Iran has wanted for many years, but could never accomplish on its own. But Rouhani does not have to worry as Netanyahu is inadvertently doing the job for him and the supreme leader. And judging by Netanyahu’s past, this will not be the last time.
So this year, Rouhani can expect quite a few birthday presents.
Relations between the Obama administration and Netanyahu are about to get worse. Much worse.
First is the peace process with the Palestinians. It seems that the Obama administration is seriously angry at the recent decision by the Netanyahu government to build 1700 new homes in the settlements. Kerry’s comments showed this yesterday when he warned that unless we reach a deal, a 3rd intifadah could erupt. This has angered officials inside Netanyahu’s office. Their response was:
Israel, said one official, would not “give in to the intimidation tactics” of the secretary, and would not compromise on its vital security needs.
Then there are differences over Iran.
It is my strong belief that the tensions and serious differences between Obama and Netanyahu over the settlements is influencing their dealings and relations with regards to Iran. Judging by his statements today, Netanyahu feels he is being pushed by Obama on the Palestinian issue, so he is pushing back on the Iran file. And he will continue to push back by getting his allies in the Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran, thus scuppering a possible nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran.
The Likud and the Democrats have historically had a tenuous relationship. Bill Clinton and Netanyahu had a very difficult and at times bad relationship. Obama and Netanyahu have had a tough relationship. Their frayed relations could be about to hit its lowest point.
It seems that Rouhani has just scored his first big foreign policy win. I am sure he is hoping that Israel builds more settlement homes. They seem to be doing wonders for Iran’s plans and wishes to drive a wedge between the US and Israel.