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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Obama, Bibi and Mitchell

It's clear to me that Mitchell - who had been pushing for a more aggressive US role - had lost the internal battle in the White House, and decided to make a statement by setting his resignation to become effective on the day Bibi comes to the White House.

It is now being reported that President Obama will not focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when he gives his speech on the Middle East on May 19, the day before Bibi arrives. Earlier a report suggested that Bibi would "tone down" his address before a joint session of Congress to be delivered on May 24, depending on what guarantees he received from Obama.

The question here is this: Does the fact that Obama apparently will not be using his speech to launch a new push for peace indicate that he and Bibi have come to some sort of an understanding, where the president backs off and Bibi steps forward with a more reasonable position before Congress?

While I have been disappointed with Obama in many respects, he does seem to play the long game. It will be interesting to see what Bibi says before Congress. And it is worth remembering this from Netanyahu's first term as prime minister in the mid-1990's:
During their first meeting in 1996, Bibi lectured Bill about the Arab-Israeli conflict, drawing an angry reaction from the American president, according to a book, Much Too Promised Land, by a former special envoy to the Middle East, Aaron Miller.

Mr. Clinton is quoted as saying: "Who the [expletive deleted] does he think he is? Who's the [expletive deleted] superpower here?"

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