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The U.S.-Israel relationship on defrost

The White House will show some love to Israel next Tuesday -- when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits the White House -- as part of an effort to improve chemistry after a March encounter widely described as a “snub” by President Obama.

But to make real headway with a suspicious Israeli public, Obama will have to go to Israel. And the betting among some U.S. and Israeli officials is that such a visit could happen in late August or early September – around when U.S.-mediated “proximity talks” between Israelis and Palestinians are slated to transition into more direction negotiations. “The president will come at a significant moment, when something has been achieved of substance,” predicts one Israeli official.

That Obama has yet to visit the Jewish state during his presidency has added to Israeli feelings that he is cooler and more distant than his predecessors. Some “daylight” between the two countries was useful, Obama told American Jewish leaders at a White House last September, because it enhanced America’s position as a mediator. But that daylight increased to a gaping hole during Netanyahu’s last visit, because of sharp disagreements over Israel’s plan to build new housing on land that’s officially part of East Jerusalem.

The two sides are still wide apart on policy issues related to the peace process. The White House, however, seems to have decided to reduce the appearance of friction with a series of outreach efforts. The latest instance of the charm offensive came yesterday, when White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, in Israel for his son’s long-schedule bar mitzvah, stopped by Netanyahu’s office and invited him to the White House. Emanuel was effusive in his expressions of goodwill, political and personal. He noted that he had brought his family to Israel to “expose them to the history in a very intimate way.” In the past, Emanuel has had a testy relationship with Netanyahu, who, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, privately described Emanuel as a “self-hating Jew” following his criticisms of Israeli policy.

Next week’s meeting promises smiles and polite expressions of mutual support, with a televised joint meeting with the press. The Israeli government has been advised, according to one official, “Rest assured, there will not be any suggestion of a snub.”

By David Ignatius  | May 27, 2010; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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If Ignatius doesn't have time to proof his copy, the Post should assign an editor to do it.

Posted by: miglefitz | May 27, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Israeli policy. No one is allowed to criticize Israeli policy, that's tantamount to blasphemy! I keep hearing the same old things about Iran and how it has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. This is an example of how insane Israel's policy really is.

The issue is not what Ahmadinejad 'says', but what he 'does'. The difference between Israeli foreign policy and Iranian foreign policy, is that Iran may 'say' that it wishes Israel did not exist, but it has not actually attacked Israel or any other neighboring country.

Israel on the other hand, likes to 'say' that it is virtuous, innocent and tolerant, but actually 'does' the opposite; it acts aggressively, violently, and totally bigotedly. If actions speak louder than words, and I believe they do, then Israel's actions say "we wish to wipe Gaza, Iran and other Arab nations, off the face of the earth".

People are always saying things they don’t literally mean. Iran may be stupid, but saying that it wants to wipe Israel off the map is hardly dangerous, especially as Iran would be under no illusions as to the consequence of actually putting those words into actions. Israel however, can commit mass murder without repercussions and with complete impunity, safe in the knowledge that America will always back its crimes, just like the spoilt brat that it is! Unfair world! Unfair foreign policy!

Posted by: francinelast | May 27, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

This fellow David Ignatius is a paid pumper of Israel, has been on AIPAC's payroll for a long time just like the rest of the Post's staff. It is truly disgusting to watch our President bending over to please Israel. Because of the power and money of the Jewish lobby, our President finds it necessary to bow down to Israel. This shameless Ignatius knows that to survive in our media, one must tow the Israeli line.

Posted by: timsz247 | May 27, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

It's silly to pretend there had been any cooling in US/Israeli relations at all.

During this entire "row", the US hasn't stopped aid even for a second. Every single military weapon that Israel buys from the United States is paid for by US taxpayers, and that hasn't stopped for a second during this supposed dispute.

This is about 3 billion dollars a year in aid. The US directly pays for Israel's settlements and the weapons needed to steal the land. Ignore what the governments say, and pay attention to what they do. Nothing has changed.

Posted by: fuzzywzhe | May 27, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

President Obama must never, ever, set foot in Israel. It is a far too dangerous and lawless of a country that will refuse to ensure President Obama's safety just as surely as the Shin Bet refused to protect former President Carter.

President Obama must never go to this barbaric place.

Posted by: bbsnews | May 28, 2010 4:22 AM | Report abuse

that's a nice little article you wrote here

too bad Israel had to go and murder 10 people

other than that, you would have been right, and your defense of a murderous enemy of humanity might have slipped under the radar

instead, you got caught shilling for a bunch of murderers


Posted by: nada85484 | May 31, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Israel is determined to sabotage their relationship with the USA. Netanyahu cannot even control his own government with factions blatantly working against compromise. One has to imagine just how much Netanyahu really complains when hard-core orthodox factions do his dirty work.

Posted by: chklbrry | June 2, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

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