That there should be an enormous amount of speculation today regarding what took place at the White House yesterday is rather inevitable. And, beyond a certain reasonable point, becomes a futile exercise.
From one source I learned that, while this was not mentioned during the “press availability” time yesterday, Obama people have since leaked the fact that during their meeting Netanyahu and Obama discussed possible ways to institute an extension of the freeze. This is not exactly a startling revelation.
This particular source concluded that this may mean a secret de facto agreement that does not require Netanyahu to make an announcement. Sure, it could be. But it may also mean that the two men might not have been able to reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement. Perhaps Netanyahu did suggest that Obama acknowledge the Bush letter, in return for a freeze outside of major settlement blocs, only to find that Obama wouldn’t buy into this.
And that evasive non-response by Obama last night — when asked about whether he wants to see an extension of the freeze — that he hopes face-to-face negotiations start before the freeze ends in September? It caught my eye, and a great many other eyes as well, but without unanimity regarding what it means. There were analysts who felt this meant that Netanyahu was off the hook with regard to continuing the freeze — that is, that progress would proceed independent of an extension. And then there was those who thought it meant that further progress would be stymied if there weren’t an extension, and that direct talks would provide the motivation for instituting it.
And so it goes, ad infinitum.
One thing that there was a considerable amount of agreement about was the fact that Obama was posturing — that his good words towards Netanyahu should not be embraced at face value because the president is a man who is not to be trusted.
Staunchly right-wing Deputy Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Ayoub Kara put it bluntly: “He doesn’t sound evil now because he needs Jewish votes and money…But I won’t forget the pressure he put on Netanyahu and the stress I saw in the prime minister the last time he came back from Washington…I hope he will stay this way, but I doubt it.”
The outspoken MK Aryeh Eldad, Chair of the Land of Israel Caucus in the Knesset, echoed this sentiment: “Obama doesn’t sound wicked now, but he was merely buying time. Obama is betting on getting the entire pot. Our job [in the Caucus] will be to put pressure on Netanyahu so he won’t make concessions that threaten Israel’s future.”
These sound to me like reasonable assessments. Genuine trust in Obama would be exceedingly naive in the face of this man’s stated positions and acts to date.
In fact, journalist David Bedein has uncovered an instance of Obama administration duplicity that is concrete and not speculative.
In his statement during the press conference, in the presence of Netanyahu, the president mentioned incitement. First our prime minister stated that peace “requires that the Palestinian Authority prepare its people for peace — schools, textbooks, and so on.” (Remember, I mentioned last night the urging of Knesset Education Committee Chair MK Zevulun Orlev that this issue be raised.) Then, Obama said: ” I think it’s very important that the Palestinians not look for excuses for incitement, that they are not engaging in provocative language.”
The official press release from the White House Press Office, however, does not mention incitement.
In fact, I will carry this further than Mr. Bedein did: If you look at the entire official White House “Readout of the President’s Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel” —
— you will not find any reference to anything the PA has to do to bring peace. It’s all about us, about what it’s good that we’ve done so far, and what we still should do (such as work to make the lives of the Gazans better). Plus there is discussion of US-Israeli cooperation, US guarantees, etc. (More on this below.)
What is this business of needing to do more for the people of Gaza? Even after clear evidence has been presented of the fact that there is no humanitarian crisis there, coupled with a willingness by Israel to open the crossings for even more goods. There is an international obsession with the Palestinian Arabs and the obligation to attend to them.
An article by Ben-Dror Yemini that ran in Maariv in Hebrew, with regard to the situation in Gaza, and presented in translation here (thanks to Daily Alert www.dailyalert.org), is not only eye-opening, it is mind-blowing:
“Turkey was the most prominent country in the recent flotilla, but according to a number of indicators, the humanitarian situation in Turkey is worse than it is in Gaza.
“Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.7 per thousand; in Turkey it is 24.8. Life expectancy in Gaza is 73.7, whereas in Turkey it is 72.2.
“Most of the world’s inhabitants are – according to objective data – in a worse situation than the residents of Gaza. This includes those who live in Turkey under Erdogan’s rule.
“Even by other indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, the situation of the residents of Gaza is much better than most of the world’s inhabitants.
“Two years ago, a British politician claimed that life expectancy in Glasgow East was much lower than in Gaza. The claim caused an uproar. Britain’s Channel 4 carried out a scrupulous check and found the claim to be true.
“Thus, it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is worse. It is Turkey that needs the help.
“American aid per capita to Gaza is 7.5 times higher than aid per capita to Haiti, though by any possible indicator, the residents of Gaza are incomparably better off than the residents of Haiti.
“What is true is that, thanks to the ‘brutal’ occupation, the Palestinians in Gaza are better off than most of their brethren in neighboring countries.”
Will you please share this information broadly — copying and pasting, as necessary — with full attribution to Maariv and Daily Alert.
The Hebrew original is here:
Then from MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) we have this citation from Muhammad Hamadi, in his column in the Egyptian daily Rooz Al-Yousuf, dated June 29, 2010. Drawing information from a Hamas website, Hamadi shows that despite talk of a Gaza siege, produce, poultry and beef are cheaper in Gaza than in Egypt:
“What Siege Are They Talking About?”
“If this is what it’s like in Gaza under siege, then the Egyptian people, who have been burned by the fire of prices and who peel off part of their limited income to save the besieged Gaza residents, [should] pray to Allah to smite them with [such a] siege, if the siege will lead to lower prices and make it possible for every common citizen to buy eggs, meat, and poultry like the Gaza residents do.”
One good thing that does seem to have come from the Obama-Netanyahu meeting:
Some weeks ago, the US voted for a UN resolution calling for a nuclear non-proliferation conference in about a year. The resolution singled out Israel alone by name, and undermined the policy of “nuclear ambiguity” that the US had traditionally accepted.
Now Obama said the US would not encourage this conference unless all nations “feel confident that they can attend” and that Israel will not be singled out.
What is more: Army Radio has reported that the US sent Israel a letter indicating that it respected our status as a non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This is major with regard to our deterrence power.
Also good news, this from yesterday’s Washington Times:
“The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the benefits of bombing Iran’s nuclear program outweigh the short-term costs such an attack would impose.
“In unusually blunt remarks, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba publicly endorsed the use of the military option for countering Iran’s nuclear program, if sanctions fail to stop the country’s quest for nuclear weapons.
“‘I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,’ Mr. al-Otaiba said. ‘I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what.’
“‘If you are asking me, “Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,” my answer is still the same: “We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.” I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E.'”
There are other Gulf (Arab Sunni) states that feel the same but that do not consider it politically prudent to say so publicly. Is it too much to hope, that this might break the ice and make it possible for others to be more candid? This would change the dynamic and move Obama in the direction of considering an attack — which, it would clear, is what the “moderate” Muslim world he is courting wants.
This news report will either sicken you, or send you into gales of laughter. Take your pick:
According to YNet, members of the Nobel Committee in Oslo have been approached lately by associates of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, including former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, in a bid to have the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Abbas.
I’ve written several times about how Abbas seeks to emulate Yasser Arafat, and here you are. Of course, as ridiculous as it was for that old obdurate terrorist Arafat to receive the award, he had at least made a pretense of peace, and had signed the Oslo Accords with Israeli PM Rabin. What, pray tell, has Abbas done? He won’t even meet face-to-face with Netanyahu.
I have no serious expectation that the Committee will honor this request. It may, in fact, have sent it members into gales of laughter, as well. But there is a way in which this provides comfort for me: It is evidence of the fact that Abbas is out of touch with reality, and has expectations that are unrealistic. Let his expectation that the UN Security Council will vote a Palestinian state into being turn out to be just as unrealistic.
Mentioned in passing: The other day Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with PA prime minister Salam Fayyad. Subsequent to the meeting Hamas charged him with caving to the enemy.
The point here is one of political climate, which tone Hamas very much sets. Fayyad does not remotely have the political clout or the prestige in the street to counter the Hamas position.
See and share this great YouTube video addressing Israel’s stunning innovative success. We are a nation like no other: