As the local political season comes to a close, I might be feeling the effects of all the arm-waving distractions that come with campaigns. One side makes all sorts of claims about the opponent’s record, and the other side responds, “Ignore that stuff, look over HERE!” The mix of cynicism and practical political manipulation shows up everywhere, and sometimes with curious…More
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After a working dinner Monday night at the State Department, negotiators for Palestine and Israel were scheduled to meet once more on Tuesday before returning home. They might already be airborne, but the two opening sessions offer hope for a fresh start. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, backed by a majority of…More
Optimism is the rarest of commodities in the Middle East, so the heavily qualified and asterisk-dotted scheduled meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington, D.C. is potentially, if it happens, maybe, a notable start. Credit goes to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Certainly the willingness of the two sides to mutter and grumble their way…More
The timing is at least interesting if not a diplomatic coup of sorts. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is in Beijing to meet with Chinese leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel will arrive on Wednesday. Supposedly, they will not meet. Of course, a Chinese official made it clear to a New…More
The website of the Embassy of Israel to the United States is putting the best spin on President Obama’s visit and any tensions between the two countries, calling the U.S.-Israel relationship an “unbreakable alliance.” Perhaps hard to believe when disagreements between the two countries are deep, including over Israel’s expansions of settlements, where the borders would lie in a two-state solution, and of late – the best way for a war-weary U.S. to respond to Iran’s nuclear program.
But first, the diplomatic niceties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to take President Obama on tours of technological products by Israel’s high-tech industries including in the fields of renewable energy, clamping down on traffic accidents, medicine, search and rescue, and robotics. Here’s an itinerary to keep you in the virtual loop.
Expectations about the presidential trip vary depending on whose doing the talking. President Obama’s planned visit to Palestinians living in Bethelehem in the West Bank is said to be greeted with little expectation and much skepticism. As one story noted, “Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has deepened, its settlements have expanded, and there is no sign on the horizon of a political solution that will bring Palestinians independence.” In other words, nothing will change despite a visit from the leader who ran on a platform of change. Speaking for the Israelis, is a strange video from the Israeli embassy featuring Obama and Netanyahu as cardboard cut outs moving to the musical theme from the Golden Girls television show. Now I’ll have “thank you for being a friend” playing in my head all day.
And despite Israel being the largest recipient of U.S. aid, they haven’t been shy about taking U.S. leaders to task when it suits them. Remember Netanyahu lecturing Obama on Jewish history? Breathtaking.
Foreign aid for Israel always raises the question of who else gets aid from the U.S. Here are the top 10 countries listed by level of aid:More