Friday, October 03, 2014

Strange meeting

In their meeting at the White House Thursday, Pres. Barack Obama and PM Bibi Netanyahu both spoke very magnanimously of each other and their country's mutual interests and cooperation.  However, lurking below the surface were two issues that have currently blossomed into disagreement, that have been highlighted by the WH and State Dept. spokesmen.

First is the issue of the similarity or differences between Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, which Israel fought for 50 days this summer, and The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or even ISIL) which the US is currently attacking with a coalition of states.  This is what Netanyahu said in his speech to the UN last week: "ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree."  Note that Bibi did not say that IS and Hamas are identical or the same or even very similar.  His statement allows for many differences in approach, methodology and beliefs, he merely pointed out what is fact, that both are Islamist organizations with an anti-western ideology and a desire to establish an Islamic Caliphate. Netanyahu quoted statements by their respective leaders underlining these aims.

Here is what the WH spokesman Jan Psaki said in response:   “We believe they’re both terrorist organizations....We obviously believe that [IS] poses a different threat to the United States, based on, of course, the military action and other efforts that are underway.....We don’t believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu or anyone else from Israel is suggesting that the United States launch a military campaign against Hamas, so we certainly – they are both designated terrorist organizations under the United States designations, but certainly we see differences -- in terms of the threat and otherwise,” she said.   Now why in this statement could she not have agreed that both are in fact Islamist organizations that are anti-western and want to establish an Islamic Caliphate. The answer is obvious, she reflects Pres. Obama's attempt to continually emphasize the differences and the distance between Israel and the USA.

The same applies to Israel's so-called "settlement policy."   Last Wednesday the Jerusalem Municipality published its approval of the plans to build 2,600 new housing units in Givat Hamatos, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.  They emphasized that the plan was already approved in early December 2012 by a planning committee. Jan Pasaki said in response,  "This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations," Psaki told a briefing. In addition, she stated it would "call into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement."
Now why would the State Dept. spokesperson question Netanyahu's commitment to a two-state solution that he had just stated to the President himself.  Maybe the President doesn't believe him, but this is not the way to treat an ally and a friend.   It is rude, insulting and typical of the Obama Administration.


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