Obama snubs Netanyahu, walks out– didn’t invite PM to dinner


Obama snubs Netanyahu, walks out– didn’t invite PM to dinner

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu never has an easy relationship with American presidents–be it Republican or Democrat. President Bush (41) was at odds with him, and many in Israel blamed President Bush (41) of trying and succeeding in ensuring that Netanyahu’s government fell in Israel.

In recent times Prime Minister Netanyahu has fallen from American grace again. First came the news that General Petraeus had publicly stated the Israel was jeopardising American policy in the Middle East.

The Daily Haaretz is a left wing Israeli newspaper. The story in the newspaper is fascinating.

The prime minister leaves America disgraced, isolated, and altogether weaker than when he came. Daily Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=1158992&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1

Instead of setting the diplomatic agenda, Netanyahu surrendered control over it. Instead of leaving the Palestinian issue aside and focusing on Iran, as he would like, Netanyahu now finds himself fighting for the legitimacy of Israeli control over East Jerusalem

We have ignored the back and forth between Washington and Tel Aviv because of it is the usual drama with Israel continuing to illicitly build the 1600 illegal homes. However the anecdotal evidence coming out the happenings of the White House.

Far from it. Just when Netanyahu thought he had resolved the crisis by apologizing to Biden, Clinton called him up for a dressing down.

This time as well, Netanyahu almost believed the crisis had passed, that he had survived by offering partial, noncommittal answers to the Americans’ questions. Shortly before meeting with Obama, Netanyahu even warned the Palestinians that should they continue to demand a freeze on construction, he would postpone peace talks by a year.

His arrogant tone underscored the fact that Netanyahu believed that on the strength of his AIPAC speech, he could call the next few steps of the diplomatic dance.

But then calamity struck. At their White House meeting, Obama made clear to his guest that the letter Netanyahu had sent was insufficient and returned it for further corrections. Instead of a reception as a guest of honor, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child, an army private ordered to do laps around the base for slipping up at roll call. Haaretz

Of course the initial news will be denied at both ends, however the sources of the news are powerful and credible–Times of London, and Daily Haaretz of Israel.

The President was said to have walked out of the meeting, saying to Mr Netanyahu: ‘Let me know if there is anything new’

For a head of state to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of.

Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip seen in Jerusalem tonight as a disastrous humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on Jewish settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisors and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman who spoke to the Prime Minister said today.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House phone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

Left to talk among themselves, Mr Netanyahu and his aides retreated to the Roosevelt Room. He later spent a further half-hour with Mr Obama and extended his stay for a day of emergency talks aimed at restarting peace negotiations, but left last night with no official statement from either side. He returns to Israel dangerously isolated after what Israeli media have called a White House ambush for which he is largely to blame.

Sources said that Mr Netanyahu failed to impress Mr Obama with a flow chart purporting to show that he was not be responsible for the timing of announcements of new settlement projects in east Jerusalem. Mr Obama was said to be livid when such an announcement derailed Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel this month, and his anger towards Israel does not appear to have cooled.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, cast doubt on minor details in Israeli accounts of the meeting but did not deny claims that it amounted to a dressing down for the Prime Minister, whose refusal to freeze settlements is seen in Washington as the main barrier to resuming peace talks.

The Likud leader now has to try to square the demands of the Obama Administration with his nationalist, ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, who want him to stand up to Washington, even though Israel desperately needs US backing in confronting the looming threat of a nuclear Iran.

“The Prime Minister leaves America disgraced, isolated and altogether weaker than when he came,” the Israeli daily Ha’aretz said.

In their meeting Mr Obama set out a number of expectations that Israel was to satisfy if it wanted to end the crisis, Israeli sources said. These included an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement growth beyond the 10-month deadline next September, an end to Israeli building projects in east Jerusalem, and even a withdrawal of Israeli forces to positions that they held before the Second Intifada in September 2000, after which they re-occupied most of the West Bank.

Newspaper reports recounted how Mr Netanyahu looked “excessively concerned and upset” as he pulled out a flow chart to show Mr Obama how Jerusalem planning permission worked and how he could not have known of the announcement that hundreds more homes were to be built just as Mr Biden arrived in Jerusalem.

Mr Obama then suggested that Mr Netanyahu and his staff stay on at the White House to consider his proposals, so that if he changed his mind he could inform the President right away. “I’m still around,” the Yediot Ahronot daily quoted Mr Obama saying. “Let me know if there is anything new.”

With the atmosphere so soured by the end of the evening, the Israelis decided that they could not trust the phone line they had been lent. Mr Netanyahu retired with his defence minister, Ehud Barak, to the Israeli Embassy to ensure the Americans were not listening in.

The meeting came barely a day after Mr Obama’s landmark health reform victory. Israel had calculated that he would be too tied up with domestic issues ahead of the mid-term elections to focus seriously on the Middle East.

The approval of construction at the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, announced before his meeting with Obama, again caught Netanyahu unawares. Apparently the special panel appointed after the Ramat Shlomo debacle to prevent such surprises failed its first test. Times. UK. Giles Whittell, Washington, and James Hider, Jerusalem

Netanyahu is having his most difficult week since returning to office, beginning with the unfortunate decision to relocate the planned emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center and lasting through his humiliating jaunt through Washington.

Returning to Israel today, Netanyahu will need to work hard to rehabilitate his image, knowing full well that Obama will not relent, but instead demand that he stop zigzagging and decide, once and for all, whether he stands with America or with the settlers. Haaretz

Will the US Jewish community rally behind the isolated Prime Minister or will they begin working against Barack Obama and try to limit him to a one term presidency.

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