Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When Bibi met Obama: They Agree on Nothing Except to Play Nice

The media was abuzz before the meeting, it was well known that they would disagree and the Israeli media likes to hyper ventilate regarding strained Israel-US relations when the administration disagrees with Israel's leadership. It happened before, many times. The reason I supported Bibi at the last election was because Bibi managed to withstand such disagreements when the last Democrat was in charge.

The warning signs and reasons to be wary are aplenty, however - it is within Israel's best interest, as it is in the USA's to maintain a friendly relationship regardless of political course taken. I believe both leaders recognize this, and while let the disagreements be visible - they both assure the Jewish public in Israel and in the USA: The friendship will withstand.

Barak expects 'serious dialogue' with US
The meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama marked the beginning of "serious dialogue" between Israel and the current administration, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday, praising the US president's intention to put forward a "comprehensive regional solution" to the conflict with the Arab world.

During a tour of OC Central Command, Barak was asked whether there were differences between Obama and Netanyahu on the Palestinian issue.

"It would be more correct to say that there was serious dialogue," Barak replied. "I spoke to Netanyahu last night after midnight and he updated me on some of the content [of the meeting]. I think that we are at the start of serious dialogue with the Americans. It will take time and will comprise all of the issues."

The defense minister said he was "happy to hear that Obama understands that the Iranian issue is very serious." Barak warned, however, that "the challenge is not only how to talk to them but what do we do if it turns out that the Iranians are continuing to consistently strive for a military nuclear ability."

An opinion on ynet:Bibi’s from Mars, Obama’s from Venus
Something like this was unheard of in Barak Obama’s White House. Since his inauguration on January 20, the young president met with more than 50 heads of state, yet there is no precedent for such lengthy meeting. Not at a time where the American president is forced to deal with a plethora of grave problems that do not allow him to waste time on a meeting without taking a tough decision in its course.

Barack Obama changed the rules of the diplomatic game in Washington, in the spirit of his pledge for change during the election campaign. He received Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a tête-à-tête that ran for longer than expected, while shunning protocol. Overall, the two leaders spent four hours together, mostly on their own and some of the time with their aides.

Title on Ynet: Obama says will present new regional peace initiative
Netanyahu, Obama leave White House meeting with significant gaps on issue of two-state solution. US president informs prime minister he intends to present a new regional peace initiative, probably during his trip to Cairo next month

Foxnews: Obama, Netanyahu Agree on Peace, Differ on Priorities
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he is ready to restart Mideast peace talks right away as long as Palestinians immediately recognize the Jewish state.

Meeting with President Obama at the Oval Office, the new prime minister -- on his second tour as head of the Israeli government -- said he wants the Palestinians to have the powers to govern themselves, save for a few security measures that threaten Israel.

Netanyahu also appeared to differ from Obama, who on Monday called for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu made no specific mention of a separate nation for the Arab people.

"We don't want to govern the Palestinians, we want to live peacefully, we want them to govern themselves absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel. And to this end there is a clear goal, the goal has to be an end to conflict," Netanyahu said while taking questions from reporters in the Oval Office.

Don't misunderstand, this was not a love letter to Obama... It is what I understand from the news reported, despite deep disagreements - Obama (for now?) will play nice with Israel and not seek to punish and pound it as some have expected. Does he recognize Israel's independent mandate better than prior presidents?

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