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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is someone trying to create a diplomatic incident with the US?

There are some very strange goings on over at the Jerusalem Post.

On Sunday night, the Post reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has 'canceled' a trip to the AIPAC conference May 3-5 ostensibly because US President Obama 'refuses' to meet with him.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday canceled his plans to attend the upcoming AIPAC summit, after it became clear that US President Barack Obama would not meet him during the conference.
The paper then went on to report that the Prime Minister has asked Shimon Peres to take his place. Note that there is no source or byline for that article - it was written by "JPost staff."

Several of my favorite bloggers have pounced on the story and are pounding Obama for his refusal to meet with Netanyahu just days after he shook hands with thugs like Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega at the Summit of the Americas (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

Now you all know that I dislike Obama as much as any other conservative blogger, but something very suspicious is going on here. You see, the Post itself had a lengthy feature in Friday's edition that confirmed that Netanyahu is not going to the AIPAC summit - not because Obama won't meet with him, but because Netanyahu himself does not want to meet with Obama until he has had a chance to complete a policy reassessment and decide with his cabinet how to deal with the foul winds coming out of Washington. That story appeared under the byline of Hillary Leila Krieger, the Post's Washington correspondent.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unlikely to make his first Washington trip as premier in time to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference during the first week of May.

Though some reports indicated Netanyahu would be coming then, the date was never confirmed. Israeli government sources now say that he will be going to Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama at the end of his policy review, a process that isn't due to be concluded until later in May.

Though the conference, which annually gathers thousands of pro-Israel activists and features leading American and Israeli politicians, would have been a fitting time for his inaugural visit, the delays he faced in forming his coalition this spring have set back the transition process and policy planning.
Moreover, Krieger reported that Obama adviser Martin Indyk 'dismissed out of hand' the idea that Obama did not want Bibi to come to Washington.
There has been speculation in parts of the Israeli press that Obama himself wanted Netanyahu to hold off on his visit to avoid photo ops with the Israeli leader, but US observers dismissed this idea out of hand.

"Obama is looking forward to Bibi coming in early May," said former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk of the reports, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

He stressed that it was "totally inaccurate" to say that the new prime minister was unwelcome in Washington, and chalked the assertion up to Israeli "spin."
One of Krieger's sources also dismissed 'speculation' that appeared in the Israeli media last week that there is a 'message' in the fact that Obama is hosting Jordan's King Abdullah and 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas before Netanyahu.
Scott Lasensky, a Middle East expert with the US Institute of Peace, said the Abdullah visit was simply part of the long-established tradition whereby a new US president packs his first few months in office with meetings with key heads of state.

"Anyone who thinks there is a message in the sequencing is either paranoid or unfamiliar with Washington," he said, pointing out that these visits were usually "weeks if not months" in the making and that Israel had only recently formed its new government.
Who is trying to make things worse than they are already between Netanyahu and Obama and why? Or did Krieger get it wrong on Friday while YNet's Roni Sofer (linked above and in a post I did on Saturday night) get it right? I wish I knew the answer. But for the time being I would not rush to post things that make it seem that there is even more acrimony between Netanyahu and Obama than we already know exists.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - my guess would be a lot of people in Israel's media elite hate Bibi's guts and they want to drive him out of power. They are covering him in a very different way than they did with Ehud Olmert. They don't want him to succeed because he is not favoring their agenda. Its really that simple.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Ann Tendler said...

Didn't the Obama administration snub Gabi Ashkenazi too? I wouldn't be at all surprised by this. Does anyone still think he's a 'friend of Israel"?


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