Monday, May 31, 2010

Netanyahu Cancels US Trip

Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu has canceled his upcoming Washington visit with President Obama:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled a planned trip to Washington Tuesday and will return home to Israel from Canada today to deal with the diplomatic fallout in the wake of Israeli commandos killing ten people on ships bringing aid to Gaza.

"Netanyahu decided to cut short his visit to Canada and return to Israel early," a statement from the Israeli government said, reported by Reuters.

The White House said President Barack Obama had a fifteen minute phone call with Netanyahu this morning in which he expressed understanding for Netanyahu's decision to return to Israel immediately.

“This morning between 10:00 and 10:15 AM CDT, the President spoke by phone with Prime Minister Netanyahum" the White House said in a statement Monday. "He said he understood the Prime Minister's decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events."

"They agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity," the White House said. "The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded, many of whom are being treated in Israeli hospitals. The President also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible.”

Abbas, of course, will use this as an excuse to continue to avoid direct talks with Israel. Don't be surprised if he shows up inGaza for a photo-op with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh...and a gala dinner at the Roots Club

From Netanyahu's point of view, this likely worked out well in an unintentional way. After the US throwing Israel under the bus by supporting a new UN resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East that singles out Israel and doesn't even mention Iran, the only thing on the agenda was likely Obama trying to muscle more unilateral concessions for the Palestinians out of Bibi and warning him Israel had better get used to a Nuclear Iran. It was not going to be a happy meeting between allies, but a photo-op designed to use Netanyahu as a prop to to try and shore up some of Obama's political support among American Jews.

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