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Monday, January 07, 2008

Olmert blocking Netanyahu from meeting with Bush

Senior members of the Likud are accusing Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert of blocking a meeting between opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and US President George Bush. It's customary for visiting foreign dignitaries to meet with the opposition leader during their stays here to get a different perspective on the issues. But the Prime Minister's office is claiming that they had nothing to do with it and that Bush doesn't want to meet with Netanyahu because the White House thinks Bibi is a liar (talk about the pot calling the kettle black!) and because Bush is refusing to meet with anyone who is opposed to the 'Annapolis process.' Has George W. Bush become that big a partisan fool? I find that hard to believe.
Bush has not made time to meet with Netanyahu or with any other politician who opposes the Annapolis diplomatic process.

"It would be right if the president would take the time to listen to someone who represents more than half the people in Israel, who oppose the Annapolis process," Netanyahu said.

Senior Likud sources went further, saying that "given the extent to which the prime minister is willing to endanger the country to survive politically, it is not surprising that the Prime Minister's Office is going out of its way to prevent Bibi [Netanyahu] from meeting Bush." [No, it's actually not surprising at all. CiJ]

Olmert's spokesman said he was not familiar with any effort to prevent a Bush-Netanyahu meeting. A Kadima source shifted the blame to the White House, hinting that officials in Washington were not interested in Bush meeting Netanyahu because of bad experiences they had with him in the past.

"At the White House they think he's a liar, because of his behavior when he was prime minister," the Kadima source said.
Bibi was Prime Minister from 1996-99. George W. Bush became President in 2001. The President during the time Bibi was Prime Minister was a fellow named Clinton who came from the other party. What would the Bush White House or anyone in it know about Bibi's behavior as Prime Minister? Does anyone notice Olmert's nose getting bigger than the last time I ran this cartoon?

It gets worse. Listen to what Bush does have time to do here:
Likud officials called such allegations "ridiculous." They expressed outrage that the only person Bush will meet with on the trip who opposes the Annapolis diplomatic process is former prime minister Ariel Sharon's son, Gilad Sharon, who Bush requested to meet in order to discuss the agricultural expertise he has gained running the Sharon family ranch. [Is Bush retiring a year early and in need of help in running his ranch in Crawford? Can neither he nor Gilad Sharon afford a commercial airline ticket from Tel Aviv to Crawford? CiJ]

Sharon initially opposed his father's 2005 Gaza Strip withdrawal plan, but eventually was persuaded to support it. He has been a vocal critic of the Annapolis process through his regular column in Yediot Aharonot.

In a column published on Sunday, Sharon called Bush "a true friend of Israel." Sharon also criticized the government for arming Fatah and for abandoning the road map's insistence on ending terrorist activity, dismantling terrorist organizations and confiscating weapons before negotiating an accord.

"The prime minister and cabinet ministers talk about how important it is to strengthen Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] while we bury the people who died as a result of his strengthening," Sharon wrote.

"As long as the terror and chaos continues on the Palestinian side, there is no reason for peace talks. After all, the goals of the negotiations are quiet and serenity, and not their [the talks'] mere existence," he continued.

Sharon did not return messages from The Jerusalem Post. But a source close to him said he doubted Sharon would say anything regarding diplomatic issues to the US president.
And for those of you who wonder about Gilad Sharon's contribution to the family name....
While Ariel Sharon was Foreign Minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999, the indictment asserted, Appel contracted to pay Gilad Sharon, Ariel's son, then 30 years old and a business novice, US$20,000 a month as a business consultant to Appel's development project. It was reported that Gilad may have received up to US$3 million had the project been successful.

Israeli prosecutors argued that Appel signed the contract with Gilad Sharon in order to secure his father's help in facilitating the resort project. Sharon later hosted the deputy foreign minister of Greece during his visit to Israel. The indictment also charged that Appel had assisted Ehud Olmert's campaign for mayor of Jerusalem.

On June 14, 2004, Israel's Attorney General, Meni Mazouz, decided to close the case without criminal proceedings, because of lack of evidence. The land deal was actually negotiated before Sharon was Foreign Minister, and Sharon had voted against Appel's interests when he was Housing Minister in an earlier government. Mazouz also commented negatively on the prosecution: "There was a goal at the outset which influenced the decision-making process."
There sure was a goal that influenced the decision-making process, but it may not have been the one leftist attorney general Mazuz (Yossi Beilin's candidate for the position) had in mind and it didn't relate to the decision to open the investigation, but rather to the decision to close it. On April 14, 2004 - two months before Mazuz closed the case - there was a joint press conference and exchange of letters between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. President Bush declared his support for Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal plan and added that, if carried out, it would “mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace.” In May 2004, one month before Mazuz closed the case, the Quartet announced its support for the Gaza withdrawal plan: “The Quartet welcomes and encourages such a step… which must bring about a full Israeli withdrawal and complete end of occupation in Gaza, [and] can be a step towards achieving the two-state vision; and has the possibility of restarting progress on the roadmap.” The investigation was closed on June 14, 2004. Coincidence? I think not.

You all know I am not crazy about Netanyahu but for the President of the United States to refuse to meet with the democratically-elected opposition leader in an allied country - particularly when that refusal is apparently connected with the expediency of the Prime Minister in power - is nothing short of outrageous. Bush isn't leaving for our region until tomorrow. Maybe a few phone calls to the White House could change his mind.


At 11:38 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:39 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel is not a democracy but a kleptocracy with a democratic facade. That form of government is different from true democracy. Its not an accident Israeli leaders get excused from having to obey the law if the Attorney General (always a leftist) decides doing so will advance the interests of the branja. Graft, corruption and influence peddling can be overlooked or made to disappear for the right price. Israelis know how rigged the system is an have no confidence any one can meaningfully reform it to serve them.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I can well believe that Bush won't meet with Netanyahu. Bush has tunnel vision on Israel. He's decided his position and isn't about to change it.


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