Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent spent today in Washington preparing himself for his 10:30 AM meeting with President Obama. It is interesting how both men used the news media to prepare their populations for meetings that will not have the anticipated fireworks that the press has been predicted:
US President Barack Obama will not rush to press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their upcoming meeting, a close associate of Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell said Sunday.
“No winning strategy begins with a punch in the nose,” the source said, adding that Netanyahu can expect a “business-like meeting, highlighting the common” between the two countries.Ynet
In the Issue of Newsweek that will appear on the newsstands tomorrow Obama showed some empathy with the Israeli position:
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In an interview with Newsweek magazine, published Saturday ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, Obama said “we want to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules. I think, ultimately, that will be better for the Iranian people.
“I think that there is the ability of an Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain its Islamic character while, at the same time, being a member in good standing of the international community and not a threat to its neighbors. And we are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that hasn’t produced results in the region,” the president said.
However, Obama stressed that he was “not naïve about the difficulties of such a process.”
“If it doesn’t work, the fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself, as opposed to a perception that it seeks to advance that somehow it’s being victimized by a US government that doesn’t respect Iran’s sovereignty,” he said.
Asked whether he expects Israel to refrain from taking unilateral military action against Iran, the American leader said, “I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, you can understand why. So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They’re right there in range and I don’t think it’s my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.
“I can make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives,” Obama said.Ynet
Bibi’s National Security Adviser Uzi Arad showed appreciation for Obama’s Position:
Regarding Israel’s position on Iran, Arad said that an op-ed piece in Sunday’s New York Times by Jeffrey Goldberg “reflects very well the approach of Netanyahu.”
In that piece, Goldberg wrote that “Mr. Netanyahu says he supports Mr. Obama’s plan to engage the Iranians. He also supports the tightening of sanctions on the regime, if engagement doesn’t work. But there should be little doubt that by the end of this year, if no progress is made, Mr. Netanyahu will seriously consider attacking Iran.”
According to the Goldberg piece, Netanyahu’s military advisers believe that an attack on Iran, even if conducted without US help or permission, “would have a reasonably high chance of setting back the Iranian program two to five years.”
Arad said it was clear that both the US and Israel shared the same goal of wanting to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability, and that he expected a “detailed discussion” about the most effective ways to achieve that goal.
In recent weeks, however, the Obama administration has sent out clear signals that while it understands Israel’s preoccupation with Iran, this cannot come at the expense of progress on the Palestinian track.
Regarding that track, Arad said the issue would clearly be addressed by both leaders and that “there might be some differences in approach.”
Arad, who has been involved in intense preparatory talks with the Americans for weeks, seemed to hint that Netanyahu was not going to publicly come out and endorse a two-state solution.
“We are comfortable that a sense of pragmatism, and a desire for progress, will drive the discussions, and that what will decide the issues are the practicalities of the matter and not the rhetoric,” he said.
Both Israeli and US officials have said in recent days that Netanyahu and Obama will come to an agreement on a general formula that could be interpreted as an Israeli endorsement of a two-state solution down the road. Jpost
So what will happen after tomorrow’s 90 minute meeting? Dr. Daniel Pipes predicts:
Short term prospects, then, hold out more continuity than change in U.S.-Israel relations. Those concerned with Israel’s security will prematurely breathe a sigh of relief – premature because the status quo is fragile and U.S. relations with Israel could rapidly unravel.
As for me, I ended up close to Dr. Pipes. In an article written for the American Thinker I concluded:
Look for more reports of a schism but understand that it is all political fodder. Look for minor concessions by Bibi on the Palestinian issue and by the US on Iran. This is not to say that these “frenemies” will not eventually become real enemies, but not now. For now, they need each other and this is just a political dance.
May I suggest you go to American Thinker and read the entire article, and please leave a comment on the site, I read all of your feedback.