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Friday, March 19, 2010

Netanyahu's confidant?

Laura Rozen cites Amos Harel, who implies that one of the problems in the Netanyahu - Obama relationship is that Netanyahu has no confidant who has an "in" at the White house.
The current upset is not solely the result of the antipathy between Netanyahu and Obama. While it is true that Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, Netanyau's predecessors, benefited from an excellent personal relationship with then-U.S. president George W. Bush, they also had other advantages.

Over the years Israel has utilized the skills of officials with a direct line to the White House. 0For example, Dov Weisglass had Condoleezza Rice; Yoram Turbowitz had Steven Hadley. When our leaders' actions stalled the diplomatic process, there was always a diligent aide around to step in and set the gears back into motion. In Netanyahu's bureau there is no such person.

Although he surrounds himself with American expatriates (with whom, according to testimonies, he prefers to engage in English), the current prime minister has no real point man with Obama.
One would think that someone in the Obama administration would have thought of this already and tried to build up a relationship with Yitzchak Molcho or Mike Herzog, who are Netanyahu's equivalent of Dov Weisglass. Harel goes on to suggest that the problem is with George Mitchell who views himself as an errand boy to carry bridging proposals and suggests that Mitchell ought to be replaced. Rozen thinks Harel is angling to get Dennis Ross the position.

While Israelis would regard Ross as a neutral party, and would probably be more open to engaging with him than they are with Mitchell, I don't believe that Ross would make any difference substantively. This is the wrong 'peace process' at the wrong time.


At 11:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The problem isn't with the relationship; its with the notion that Israel needs peace at any price.

That just ain't so!

At 10:52 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

AIPAC used to serve this function as a back channel conduit for communications.

Despite Obama's long standing and personal relationship with AIPAC Pres, Lee Rosenberg, there are no back channel avenues for the Israeli government - something that has never been the case since AIPAC has been around. AIPAC and Netanyahu are dirty words at the White House and there are no other messengers that the WH will listen to except J Street.


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