A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
July 7, 2010 Netanyahu and Obama to A Day Later, Libya and BP IDF Releases Target List for Lebanon
The Netanyahu-Obama meeting took place yesterday, and all went according to script. The White House went out of its way to make sure the atmosphere was right. There was a photo opportunity; reporters asked questions; and the video was posted on the White Hosue website within an hour. Overall, it was an excellent effort at showing that the atmospherics have changed between the two leaders. On the substance, Obama went out of his way to compliment Netanyahu for his actions on Gaza, and Netanyahu thanked Obama for his actions on Iran. Netanyahu stated clearly he thought the current actions were indeed biting sanctions and went on to say that whether they bite hard enough, only time will tell. Obama stated he has pushed the Palestinians both on internal incitement, but more importantly, on not taking such anti-Israel positions in every international forum. In terms of real substance, Obama stated that America's position on Nuclear Proliferation is unchanged. He added that Israels case is unique. Obama called for the start of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. However, every expectation is that the Palestinian Authority will feel obliged to begin the talks. (SEE the complete text of the White house statement on the meeting BELOW).
Today, the White House has been telling reporters that Netanyahu has done his share, now it is up to Abbas to do his and resume direct talks.
An open question: Why the about face in the Obama administration's actions? There is no doubt that domestic politics are part of it. However, two other factors seem to be at work. First, ironically the events surrounding the Turkish flotilla fiasco strengthend the personal ties between the two leaders. Obama discovered that he could work with Netanyahu and that when he worked with Netanyahu, rather than against him, he obtained results. This dovetails with the increasing influence of Special Envoy, Dennis Ross. Ross's opinion has been that the way to achieve peace in the Middle East is to enlist the Israeli premier, whoever he or she may be, and work with them to promote a peace plan.
Jeffery Goldberg had an interesting item in the Atlantic yesterday. He quotes the Ambasador of the United Arab Emirates calling for a military strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities.
The Wall Street Journal's Brett Stevens writes in yesterday's column how the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrah for downing Pan Am 108 over Lockerbie has turned into a bit of embarrassment; since the given reason for his release was compassion. (He was allegedly destined to die of cancer within months). Al-Megrah has not died. Instead, doctors now say he may live for another ten years. Low and behold, the real reason for al-Megrah's release has become clear: BP has been given a large oil lease off the Libyan coast.
In an unusual move, the Israeli army disclosed a target list for Southern Lebanon if there were to be a new war. The disclosures included detailed 3D renderings of every building of various villages in South Lebanon, showing every building that houses rockets and/or other armaments. The disclosure seems aimed at putting pressure both on Hezbollah and UNIFIL. Southern Lebanon is supposed to be free from rockets, and it was UNIFIL's job to prevent the return of the rockets, which are now said to number 20,000.
July 6, 2010 Readout of the President’s Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israe
President Obama hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu on his fourth visit to the White House today, and they had a very constructive discussion. The President and the Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong, unbreakable bonds that characterize the special relationship between the United States and Israel.
The President and the Prime Minister reviewed the progress made so far in Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, and discussed ways to advance to direct talks, in order to reach an agreement that ends the conflict with a secure Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with and an independent and viable Palestinian state. They agreed that the ultimate goal is a comprehensive Middle East peace between Israel and all its neighbors, including the Palestinians, Syria, and Lebanon, and normalized relations with all Arab states.
The President welcomed the Prime Minister’s efforts to implement Israel’s new policy on Gaza, including liberalizing and increasing the volume of goods flowing through the land crossings, publishing a limited list of goods prohibited from entering Gaza, and accelerating the approval of international projects. They explored additional steps that can be taken in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and international partners to improve life for the people of Gaza, and discussed how to prevent the flow of weapons to Hamas and secure the release of Gilad Shalit. The President reiterated U. S. policy toward Hamas, emphasizing that Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist if it is to play any constructive role in achieving Middle East peace
In light of the threat posed to both our nations and to regional stability by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the President and the Prime Minister reiterated their strong support for the adoption of U. N. Security Council Resolution 1929 and the additional national measures that have been taken since its adoption, and discussed the need to build upon that strong foundation as we continue to strengthen the international coalition dedicated to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons
The President reaffirmed the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and the leaders reviewed the significant progress made in recent months to expand coordination between our militaries, to preserve and strengthen Israel’s qualitative military edge, and to fortify Israel’s ballistic missile defenses, including through additional U. S. financial support for Iron Dome. The President told the Prime Minister he recognizes that Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats, and that only Israel can determine its security needs. The President pledged to continue U. S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
The President and the Prime Minister discussed the global challenge of nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation system. They also exchanged views on the regional conference to discuss a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery referenced in the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document. The President informed the Prime Minister that, as a cosponsor charged with enabling the proposed conference, the United States will insist that such a conference will be for discussion aimed at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, to include regional security issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery. The President emphasized that the conference will only take place if all countries feel confident that they can attend, and that any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely. In this regard, the two leaders also agreed to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA General Conference in September. The President emphasized that the United States will continue its long standing practice to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel’s security, and support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and stability.
The President and the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with a number of joint U. S.-Israeli initiatives in the areas of science and technology, renewable energy, and agricultural development, and agreed to continue and look to expand such efforts.