Saturday, July 10, 2010

Obama Makes Israelis Nervous (not because of his middle name)

Relations between Israel and its staunchest ally, the US, have suffered a "tectonic rift", according to Israel's ambassador to Washington.

During the interview on Wednesday, July 8, when confronted with the anxiety that Israelis feel toward him, President Obama said that "some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion." Haaretz

It is likely that Obama actually believes this. The suspicion couldn't have anything to do with his hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House in Washington, June 9 and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on June 29.

Or the fact that in April the Obama administration pledged to the Palestinian Authority it will secure an extension of a freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank and a de facto freeze in eastern Jerusalem.

Or for the shameful treatment that Obama showed to Binyamin Netanyahu when he visited the White House in March. For a head of state to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be abandoned while the President withdraws to a private dinner is unthinkable.

Then this published in Haaretz::
U.S. President Barack Obama phoned Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to brief the Palestinian president on the American leader's recent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and voice his strong support for Abbas' leadership and commitment to peace.

Obama promised Abbas that he would exert every effort to ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.

Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told the Palestinian news agency WAFA following the phone conversation that Abbas expressed his commitment to a serious peace process that would "end the occupation" and result in an independent Palestinian state.

During the conversation, Obama noted the positive momentum generated by recent improvements on the ground in Gaza and in the West Bank, the restraint shown by both Israel and the Palestinians over recent months, and progress in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks.

Obama also noted that his enovy to the Middle East George Mitchell would be traveling to the region soon, and will meet with Abbas to build on this momentum to advance the common goals of the Americans and the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Obama and Netanyahu held what the U.S. president described as an "excellent" meeting at the White House. Both leaders came out of the meeting convinced that direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were imminent.

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