Timing is everything – Netanyahu returns from Washington

Posted: May 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Here are my two cents on the Obama-Netanyahu meeting:

- There were no gestures made after the meeting: Obama showed concern on the issue of Iran, but made no specific obligations. Netanyhu didn’t try to please his hosts – as some imagined he would – with talks about concessions. It mights suggest that there were no gestures inside the meeting as well, or that both sides estimated that it was in their best interest to keep these matters under the table.

- There were also no reports of personal gestures, small-talk or anecdotes – the kind that usually follows a meeting between an American president and an Israeli PM. My guess is that Netanyahu felt that this image of the meeting would serve him better at home. He probably understood well before the meeting that sooner or later he would reach some sort of confrontation with the administration, and he wants to present a tough and consistent line (but not to create the fire himself). The PM is much more careful than in his previous term – when a meeting with Bill Clinton ended with the frustrated president asking “who’s the fucking superpower here?”

- The Syrian channel wasn’t mentioned. It is all but officially off the table.

- The meeting got the front pages in Israel for two weeks, but went almost under the radar in the US. This suggests that the administration’s attention is directed to other areas, most notably Pakistan. It might be good news for Netanyahu. The bad news is that most of the Jews are on Obama’s side, so in case of a confrontation, they might chose to sit this one out.

- The pressure from Washington will start with the issue of settlements – since it’s the one thing that even Israel’s most devoted supporters find hard to justify. It remains to be seen whether the settlers will try to embarrass Netanyahu and test the patience of the new administration. They shouldn’t, if they have any sense – but one should never underestimate the self-destructive tendencies of the right.

- I wonder if on the long flight back, Netanyahu didn’t think once or twice how easy everything would have been for him if only John McCain was sitting in the WH, or even better, George W. Timing is everything.

One Comment on “Timing is everything – Netanyahu returns from Washington”

  1. 1 Aviv said at 10:30 am on May 20th, 2009:

    “They shouldn’t, if they have any sense – but one should never underestimate the self-destructive tendencies of the right.”

    It’s a word that describes how the Left handled the Oslo process.