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The Obama-Netanyahu showdown


Both leaders will address the American public this week in attempt to influence views on Iran nuclear deal

US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go head to head this week as they try to win over the American public and its congressional supporters to their positions on the Iran nuclear deal.

“Netanyahu and Obama seem as though they’re fighting a life-and-death battle and are ready to do whatever it takes to win,” wrote the diplomatic correspondent of the daily Haaretz, Barak Ravid.

On Wednesday, Obama will speak at the American University in Washington, where 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy spoke in an effort to convince the American people that it was possible to prevent nuclear war with the Soviet Union through diplomacy.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday that the speech is meant to explain to the American people how the Iran deal serves US security interests.

Obama will make his speech one day after Netanyahu delivers a speech of his own, broadcast over the Internet to representatives from over 100 American Jewish organizations. Tens of thousands of American Jews received invitations to watch the live feed on their computers, cellphones and during screenings at synagogues across the United States.

Petros Karadjias (Pool/AFP)”Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure to hold together his one-seat parliamentary majority”

Despite initially skeptical Israeli assessments regarding prospects of scuttling the deal in Congress, Netanyahu told diplomatic correspondents on Thursday that he senses a change. “There’s movement,” he said. “As people know more about the deal, they oppose it more. This is also true for the American public.” Several polls conducted last week among Americans indicate a majority oppose the agreement.

Netanyahu is also emboldened by the tailwind he is getting from the pro-Israel lobby in the US, AIPAC. The organization is budgeting $20 million to $40 million on a campaign against the deal and sending a bi-partisan delegation of congressmen to Israel to meet Netanyahu and other senior officials.

Obama, for his part, is waging a blitz of meetings, conference calls, interviews and invitations to play golf – all in an effort to convince lawmakers to vote in favor of the deal.


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