Obama to Bibi: 'We stand behind you' (updated)

Rick Moran
Australian journalist/blogger Andrew Bolt points us to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jason Koutsoukis about a very interesting phone call between President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu.

Apparently, the administration was worried that their campaign to undermine Bibi's government had gone "too far," and Obama was attempting a little damage control:

There has been widespread public concern in Israel about the country's relationship with Washington since Mr Obama demanded that Mr Netanyahu publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state and freeze all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu has refused to accept either demand and will unveil his plan to restart the peace process with the Palestinians in a speech to be delivered on Sunday.

Mr Netanyahu was scheduled last night to meet Mr Obama's special envoy to the region, George Mitchell, to try to mediate a way forward.

Israeli media reported that Monday's phone conversation between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu was conciliatory.

Israel's biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted an unnamed aide to Mr Netanyahu who said the "conciliatory tone stemmed from the fact that the Americans realise they went too far and that, ultimately, Netanyahu is the partner that they have, and they must embrace him, not topple him".

Methinks President Obama doth protest too much. The campaign to undermine Netanyahu with the Israeli people appears to be the cornerstone of our Israeli policy. We make impossible demands on Bibi - "freeze" settlements, agree to a "two state solution" - that the Israeli Prime Minister cannot possibly agree to in the current political situation in Israel (Kadima has rejected a settlement freeze as well). So while Obama tries to lull Bibi to sleep, the administration will keep hammering the settlement issue in order to drive a wedge between Netanyahu and the Israeli people, hoping that relations will get so frosty that the Knesset might not have a choice but to call for new elections.

But Netanyahu is a survivor and a shrewd operator. The real danger is that Hezb'allah might attack or worse, Israel will feel it necessary to go after the Iranian nuclear facilities and there will be no American administration to backstop the Jewish state in the international arena. Such betrayal of an ally is not beyond the Obama administration, given their attitude toward Israel they have shown to date.

Update by Peter Barry Chowka:

In a CBS News blog on June 9, 2009, Howard Arenstein writes that many Israelis were offended by an official White House photograph showing President Obama with his feet up on the Oval Office desk as he spoke on the phone on June 8 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "It is considered an insult in the Arab world to show the sole of your shoe to someone," Arenstein notes. "It is not a Jewish custom necessarily, but Israel feels enough a part of the Middle East after 60 years to be insulted too."

Arenstein also writes,
Israel's Channel One TV reported that Netanyahu was told Tuesday by an "American official" in Jerusalem that, "We are going to change the world. Please, don't interfere." The report said Netanyahu's aides interpreted this as a "threat."
Netanyahu met for four hours on Tuesday with George Mitchell, the Obama Administration's Special Envoy for the Middle East.
Australian journalist/blogger Andrew Bolt points us to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jason Koutsoukis about a very interesting phone call between President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu.

Apparently, the administration was worried that their campaign to undermine Bibi's government had gone "too far," and Obama was attempting a little damage control:

There has been widespread public concern in Israel about the country's relationship with Washington since Mr Obama demanded that Mr Netanyahu publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state and freeze all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Mr Netanyahu has refused to accept either demand and will unveil his plan to restart the peace process with the Palestinians in a speech to be delivered on Sunday.

Mr Netanyahu was scheduled last night to meet Mr Obama's special envoy to the region, George Mitchell, to try to mediate a way forward.

Israeli media reported that Monday's phone conversation between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu was conciliatory.

Israel's biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted an unnamed aide to Mr Netanyahu who said the "conciliatory tone stemmed from the fact that the Americans realise they went too far and that, ultimately, Netanyahu is the partner that they have, and they must embrace him, not topple him".

Methinks President Obama doth protest too much. The campaign to undermine Netanyahu with the Israeli people appears to be the cornerstone of our Israeli policy. We make impossible demands on Bibi - "freeze" settlements, agree to a "two state solution" - that the Israeli Prime Minister cannot possibly agree to in the current political situation in Israel (Kadima has rejected a settlement freeze as well). So while Obama tries to lull Bibi to sleep, the administration will keep hammering the settlement issue in order to drive a wedge between Netanyahu and the Israeli people, hoping that relations will get so frosty that the Knesset might not have a choice but to call for new elections.

But Netanyahu is a survivor and a shrewd operator. The real danger is that Hezb'allah might attack or worse, Israel will feel it necessary to go after the Iranian nuclear facilities and there will be no American administration to backstop the Jewish state in the international arena. Such betrayal of an ally is not beyond the Obama administration, given their attitude toward Israel they have shown to date.

Update by Peter Barry Chowka:

In a CBS News blog on June 9, 2009, Howard Arenstein writes that many Israelis were offended by an official White House photograph showing President Obama with his feet up on the Oval Office desk as he spoke on the phone on June 8 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "It is considered an insult in the Arab world to show the sole of your shoe to someone," Arenstein notes. "It is not a Jewish custom necessarily, but Israel feels enough a part of the Middle East after 60 years to be insulted too."

Arenstein also writes,
Israel's Channel One TV reported that Netanyahu was told Tuesday by an "American official" in Jerusalem that, "We are going to change the world. Please, don't interfere." The report said Netanyahu's aides interpreted this as a "threat."
Netanyahu met for four hours on Tuesday with George Mitchell, the Obama Administration's Special Envoy for the Middle East.