U.S. Envoy Calls Bibi's Speech `Inadequate'

....Before He Delivers It

Thanks to Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam for not allowing this news to slip by. I'm sharing it.

That envoy is none other than George Mitchell, taking down Bibi Netanyahu for what seems to be another attempt by another Israeli PM to hoodwink the US. Well no one is winking back as in the old days when Clinton and Bush II were president, helping to get the American public to string along.

The way Silverstein put it, "George Mitchell is all over Bibi Netanyahu like white on rice."

Alledgedly, Netanyahu's much-touted speech is setting out his vision for the Palestinians. So Netanyahu, a hard right Likudnik, has a vision for the Palestinians? One does not have to imagine what it might be.

From the Haaretz article that carried the news:

The proposals to be outlined in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Sunday will not be enough to satisfy the Obama administration, a senior U.S. official was quoted as saying on Friday.

The official said Netanyahu told U.S. envoy George Mitchell this week what he planned to say in the speech and that it was "not adequate" to satisfy Washington, who is pushing for an immediate resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood.

The official was quoted on Friday by participants at a meeting this week of the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators. Netanyahu's refusal to declare a building freeze in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to endorse the goal of establishing a Palestinian state -- both set out in a 2003 peace "road map" -- has opened a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.

Here is the gist of Richard Silverstein's analysis:

Bibi's ill-conceived speech originated in his supporters fit of pique at the glorious reception afforded Pres. Obama's Cairo speech.  They realized that Obama had stolen a march on them and set the terms of the debate in ways that Israel could not escape.  The PM's counter-speech was the result.  But no speech that Bibi delivers can provide the boost he's looking for because he doesn't have a viable vision of how to make peace with the Palestinians.  Hence, Mitchell's a priori rejection of it.

Bibi's choices are few. He can come down with an illness preventing him from speaking on Sunday, and hope that with time people will have forgotten about the speech. Or he can allow his government to fall and hope for a six month stall to get Obama off his back.

Tags: Israel, mitchell, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine (all tags)



Here in Israel

Journalists are pumping up the expectations of this speech as a major event.  No one is buying it.  Those I have spoken with on the right expect him to deflect Obama's call for a settlement freeze and a commitment to the two state process.  Those on the left expect the same, but with added cynicism that he's going to try to match Obama's charisma and that he's nowhere near up to the task.  The latter group looks to Obama for leadership.  The importance of Bibi's speech today is not what he says or doesn't say, which seems a foregone conclusion.  Rather the suspense surrounds how the Obama administration will respond.  Will there be effective pressure or simply a merry-go-round of the same irreconcilable positions?

by Strummerson 2009-06-13 11:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Here in Israel

Thanks for this on the ground update. As Bibi already knows how his speech will be received in Washington, it would be interesting know if it has been revised on delivery.

by MainStreet 2009-06-14 04:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Here in Israel

Actually, I'm not sure Bibi actually knows how it will be received, other than they won't like it.  He is certainly going to use the mess in Iran to try to deflect and he knows that what he will say will not make the Obama administration happy.  It's all a dance at this point and each side knows the other's next move but is guessing after that.  So Bibi knows that Obama will not be pleased.  Obama knows he won't be pleased.  But only one side really knows what comes next.  The ball will be squarely back in Obama's court.  Let's hope his next move is a productive one.

by Strummerson 2009-06-14 04:26AM | 0 recs


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