“The sale of submarines, or to give permission to sell submarines to a neighboring state, this is not a special operation in the middle of the night,” he told reporters. “This is going to affect us for many years to come, and it cannot but take place through the formal channels.”
“It makes no sense,” he added. “Why do we have a National Security Council? Why do we have a Ministry of Defense? Why do we have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Why do we have so many official committees, if it comes to one of our most important strategic decisions, and we bypass them all by cousins and lawyers?”
This was not the story line Mr. Netanyahu was aiming for as he headed to Washington. His trip had been carefully orchestrated to remind Israelis, who overwhelmingly admire Mr. Trump, of how effectively Mr. Netanyahu has managed their relationship. At their Monday meeting, Mr. Trump is expected to sign a document formalizing the United States’ recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan — a strategically important plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 but which under international law is considered occupied territory.
As an added bonus, the White House meeting is to take place on Monday just as Mr. Gantz takes the stage across Washington at the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, ensuring that Mr. Gantz’s big debut there is utterly eclipsed.
On Tuesday, after taking his turn addressing the Aipac meeting, Mr. Netanyahu is to meet with congressional leaders and then return to the White House for a dinner with Mr. Trump and their wives.
Even the Aipac appearance, a yearly ritual for Mr. Netanyahu at which he is accustomed to bathing in the applause of thousands of approving supporters of Israel, could expose him to some embarrassment. Aipac departed from its studious avoidance of internal Israeli politics recently, after Mr. Netanyahu brokered a deal to bring a racist right-wing party into the government if he is re-elected, by calling the party “reprehensible.”
Liberal Jews who object to Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, meanwhile, and who are concerned that Israel is becoming a partisan issue in the United States, pointed to his appearance as a chance to protest. T’ruah, a rabbinical human-rights advocacy group, urged Jews attending the Aipac conference to walk out on Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, while a prominent rabbi, Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, on Friday called on Democratic leaders to “sound the alarm against” Mr. Netanyahu’s policies from the Aipac stage.