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Johnson's effort to appeal to Trump on Fox News is too silly for words

BORIS JOHNSON’S efforts to have British media portray his US trip for a TV appearance as a bid to persuade Donald Trump to back the Iran nuclear deal is beyond satire.

The US president couldn’t give a toss for the opinion of our self-absorbed excuse for a foreign secretary.

Trump knows what Washington’s European allies think of his loudly declared declaration to ditch the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed by the US, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain with Iran.

The idea that a Johnson appearance on a Fox network programme might induce a White House change of mind is too silly for words.

Trump is more likely to be influenced by the latest idea to fly into his head unaided or as the result of assiduous lobbying by people who matter to him — his advisers or the Israeli government.

Tel Aviv is pursuing brinkmanship in the Middle East, bombing Syria despite the risk of a confrontation with Russian forces there and issuing threats against Lebanon and Syria for their links with Iran.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett warns the Lebanese people that, when Israel next invades their country, it will not distinguish between the Hezbollah resistance group and the state itself.

This, he claims, is because Lebanese voters have backed the electoral bloc in which Hezbollah is dominant rather than the imperialist-compliant outfit of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

The people of Lebanon could be excused for not seeing this threat as a new departure since they have suffered greatly every time the regional bully-boy to the south of their country has chosen to invade.

Who Lebanese voters elect is their business alone and the 49 per cent turnout indicates how little store most set by electoral politics in a system that is corrupt, inefficient and mired in religious affiliation.

Ever since French colonialism imposed a confessional constitution prior to independence — since reaffirmed by the 1989 Taif accords to end a 15-year civil war — seats and jobs are parcelled out according to religious links.

The president has to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliamentary speaker a Shi’ite Muslim. Half the parliament’s seats are allotted to Sunni, Shi’ite, Alawite and Druze and the other half to Maronites, Roman Catholics, Armenian Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Protestant and minority Christians.

Lebanon’s Communist Party is not alone in wanting reconstruction of this unwieldy and sectarian set-up to bring about a secular democratic state to defend citizens’ rights and welfare.

Israel has no right to lecture the Lebanese people over who they vote for. Nor does it have a veto over which allied forces Syria can invite to assist its battle to drive out jihadist forces financed, armed and deployed by regional powers to overthrow its government.

To claim, as Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has, that Iranian advisers in Syria are planning rocket attacks on northern Israel — which could mean that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “signed his own death warrant” — confirms the contempt the Israeli government has for international law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has left it to his ministers to threaten Israel’s neighbours, but they are plugging his line.

He is determined to maintain as high a level of tension as possible as a backdrop to the uncertainty that surrounds the future of US commitment to the Iran nuclear deal.

Netanyahu wants to persuade Trump that a true friend of Israel would back his line and the danger is that the US president may conclude likewise.

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