Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

April 21, 2009--New York Times Articles and Obama Begins Push For Negotiations

The news from Israel today began with stories on the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.

One of the major stories of the day continued to be the speech yesterday by Ahmadinejad at the UN conference. He received a hero's welcome. The general sense is that this time Ahmadinejad did himself and the UN a great deal of harm. He proved on a world stage how dangerous he can be, and undermined the conference. The New York Times ran an editorial today criticizing his remarks. By the fourth paragraph, the Times found it appropriate to criticize Israel's actions in the recent Gaza War.

The lead article in the NYT today was very disturbing due to its placement. The article is a rehashing of a story that appeared in Congressional Quarterly about the promise by Congressman Harman in 2004 to intervene in on behalf of the two former employees of AIPAC who were are about to go on trial for violating the Foreign Secrets Acts. The claim is that transcripts were obtained of the NSA intercepting a conversation that the Congresswoman was having on the subject. I will not go into here why the trial itself is a long stretch and I believe the indicted AIPAC are not guilty of doing anything that is truly illegal, but what made this a front page story is beyond me. Additionally, since when does the NSA record conversations of Congressmen and women? There is news tonight that the Justice Department may be thinking of dropping the charges. I hope its true, and the two men can start trying to put their lives back together.

There seems to be very immediate effect of the recently worsening relations between Egypt and Hezbollah, meaning Iran. Egypt is finally taking significant actions against the tunnels in Rafah. They are using poisonous gas to make the tunnel unusable.

Today President Obama met with King Abdullah of Jordan. At the meeting and at the following press conference Obama made clear his support for a two state solution. He also stated that he supports the Saudi plan as a basis for negotiations. Obama stated: "But I agree that we can't talk forever; that at some point, steps have to be taken so that people can see progress on the ground. And that will be something that we will expect to take place in the coming months and we will help hopefully to drive a process where each side is willing to build confidence". "I am a strong supporter of a two-state solution. I have articulated that publicly and I will articulate that privately. And I think that there are a lot of Israelis who also believe in a two-state solution. Unfortunately, right now what we've seen not just in Israel but within the Palestinian Territories, among the Arab states, worldwide, is a profound cynicism about the possibility of any progress being made whatsoever". "What we want to do is to step back from the abyss; to say, as hard as it is, as difficult as it may be, the prospect of peace still exists -- but it's going to require some hard choices, it's going to require resolution on the part of all the actors involved, and it's going to require that we -- we create some concrete steps that all parties can take that are evidence of that resolution. And the United States is going to deeply engage in this process to see if we can make progress".

It is clear that Obama is not planning to step back from the Arab Israeli conflict. Israeli Minister of Defense Barak has already made clear that he believes Israel needs to accept the Saudi plan as a basis for negotiations. Israeli Minister of Foreign Relations Lieberman has made it clear he opposes any discussion of the plan, and it is unclear what Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks. Netanyahu better have it figured out by the end of May when he meets Obama

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