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Frenemies

Obama backs Bibi on direct talks

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Netanyahu and Obama last week.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been quite some time since the U.S.-Israeli relationship felt like the old normal. But after last week, which featured Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Oval Office photo-op—not to be confused with March’s secretive and desperate and frank conversation, nor early June’s almost-meeting which was cancelled when the flotilla happened—it seems that Netanyahu and President Obama have reached some sort of equilibrium. Frenemies, call them.

It would be foolish to believe that the bad blood between the two men, the product of specific events to occur on their watches as well as each man’s opposing politics and temperaments, has simply gone away. One doesn’t see Obama inviting Bibi to a White Sox game the next time he’s stateside; and as for a trip to Israel, well, that’s not in the cards this year. But, as you know if you have a frenemy (and who doesn’t?), you may distrust your frenemy, or worse, on the inside; but to the outside world, and for all practical effects, your frenemy is basically your friend.

Most concretely, it was the act of a friend for President Obama to come out in favor of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as soon as possible, which is Netanyahu’s position. President Abbas, by contrast, continues to insist on further U.S.-sponsored “proximity talks” to hammer out some shared assumptions before direct talks are broached. Obama phoned Abbas after meeting with Bibi to apply the screws. “We’re under pressure to agree to direct negotiations with Israel,” a Palestinian official reportedly confirmed.

The next step toward direct talks would be Arab League approval. And—whaddya know?—here is Netanyahu telling his Cabinet that he will travel to meet with the ailing Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday to try to enlist him in his effort to get direct talks underway. Will the 83-year-old Egyptian dictator’s flirtations with mortality, and concomitant desire for a legacy, aid Netanyahu’s case? Maybe. But far more persuasive to Mubarak, when Bibi asks him to help secure Arab League approval for direct talks, will be his knowledge that both countries’ biggest patron is firmly behind the Israeli prime minister.

Obama to P.A.: Start Direct Talks [JPost]
Abbas: No Direct Talks Before Progress Made in Proximity Talks [Haaretz]
Earlier: Obama and Bibi Tag-Team for Friendship

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Ken Besig Israel says:

First of all there is no bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu, if by that one means that they have both humiliated and embarrassed the other. Barack Obama personally, deliberately and consciously humiliated and embarrassed the Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu. Israel’s PM has done nothing of the kind to President Obama.
Secondly unless there has been a 180 degree change in the Palestinian approach to the talks, direct or indirect, the talks will go nowhere. That is, if the Palestinians continue to use the talks as just another front in their war to eliminate Israel and carry out a genocide against the Jews, then the talks will stalemate immediately.
Finally there has been no change in the Obama administration’s cold, distant, and largely destructive attitude towards Israel. This is due primarily to Obama’s personal ignorance of the importance of Israel to the United States, coupled with Obama’s own personal animosity and hostility towards Israel and the Jewish People, along with that of the US Department of State. Thus after November when the Jewish vote and it’s campaign contributions to the Democrat Party is no longer in the balance, the Obama will resume it’s bitter and unreasonable attacks on Israel, perhaps the only real and reliable ally America has in the Middle East and possibly the entire world.

alan says:

Hasn’t Netanyahu learned? You dont talk with or negotiate with a Moslem. You defeat him and then dictate terms of surrender. All their words to an unbeliever are lies.

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Frenemies

Obama backs Bibi on direct talks

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