The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler explains the great sucess the Obama administration is having in getting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on board, with A key back channel for U.S., Israeli ties. The irony here is that the article is about Dennis Ross and it is written by Glenn Kessler, who, not so long ago, reported that Dennis Ross was a liability because he was too pro-Israel
Apparently, though, not being hostile Israel has its advantages.
Sources in both the United States and Israel said that Ross has provided an element that had been missing from the bilateral relationship, which has been rocky since Obama took office. ... Netanyahu "was looking for such a channel at first and couldn't find one," a person close to the administration said.
Ross's role became more pronounced after Obama shifted course this year and decided to improve his relationship with Netanyahu.
This is amazing. Usually when something went wrong between Israel and the United States, Netanyahu would be blamed. Now here's a Washington insider reporting - at least implicitly - that President Obama was the source of the friction.
This is also interesting:
Ross originally joined the Obama administration as a senior adviser to Clinton on Iran policy. But within months - and especially after a difficult conversation with Saudi King Abdullah during a trip to Riyadh in June 2009 - Obama decided he needed Ross's expertise on the Middle East inside the White House.
I remember the shift in Ross's duties. That was at the time he was being portrayed as too "pro-Israel." Kessler wasn't exactly sure at the time what the shift meant. I guess it's easier to know in retrospect. I do wonder about the "difficult conversation." I can't find any reference to it. But it is interesting that the Saudi king apparently has the ability to dictate administration policy.
Then, the U.S.-Israeli relationship nearly came to a breaking point in March over a perceived snub of Vice President Biden during a trip to Israel. The very public disagreement - Clinton called Netanyahu to publicly berate him - was followed by an administration assessment that temperatures needed to be cooled down.
The administration reacted calmly in June to the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla of ships headed to Gaza, and then Obama warmly welcomed Netanyahu at a White House meeting in July.
Of course it wasn't a snub of Biden. It was an announcement that the Israel would be building in Jerusalem that the administration turned into a diplomatic incident.
The article concludes:
"Once the relationship was repaired, it was much easier for this channel to flourish," the source said.
Well yes. But I think what Kessler is writing here is that much of the tension between the United States and Israel came from the President. When the President realized that it wasn't in his interests to be viewed as hostile to Israel, the relationship was "repaired."
At least that's what I get from reading between the lines of this artcle.Posted by SoccerDad at October 6, 2010 3:02 AM