What we know after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Washington visit this week: both the Israeli leader and President Obama have decided that for various reasons it's best not to be quarreling, especially in public. Both have a strong vested interest in restoring the public trappings of the “special” U.S.-Israel relationship.
The problem is what we don't know; the pomp-rich visit leaves us with more questions than answers:
It was only a month or so ago that Israel’s relationship with the United States government was in serious trouble. First it was the visit of Vice-President Biden to Israel that was marred by Israel’s ill-timed announcement of new housing starts in East Jerusalem. President Obama was said to be furious. Then it was Israel’s handling of the Gaza flotilla that seemed to anger everyone in the world who was awake and breathing at the time.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration said sea-bound aid to Gaza is "irresponsible."
"Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so," a U.S. State Department release said Wednesday, in response to a reporter's question about Lebanese plans to ship aid to the Gaza Strip. "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances."
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israel's ambassador to Washington "clarified" that Jonathan Pollard spied for Israel and was not run by rogues, as he had said earlier.
Michael Oren in an interview Tuesday on the Washington news station WTOP was answering questions about whether Israel still ran spies in the United States. He was making the case that such allegations are long out of date.
Reading the tea leaves about U.S.-Israel relations is a major industry in our community. But it’s easy to be misled by the day-to-day shifts in a multilayered, vastly complex relationship between allies that have critical interests in common, but sometimes see international affairs through different lenses.
That complexity was apparent this week when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington to address the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Speaking at Monday’s Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded very much like a man who didn’t want to antagonize the president he was about to meet under visibly strained circumstances.
Several hours later the White House distributed a meeting “readout” that may have set a new record for brevity. Amid an almost total clampdown on leaks, the statement said only that the two leaders “discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship” and that President Barack Obama “reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues.”