Home > Diplomacy > Yediot follow-up: Rahm told Israeli diplomat that Obama would visit Israel by mid 2010

Yediot follow-up: Rahm told Israeli diplomat that Obama would visit Israel by mid 2010

Yesterday (January 6 2010) Yediot reported that Rahm Emanuel had bluntly told the Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles, Yaki Dayan, that the US administration was “tired” of the government of Israel because of its foot-dragging on Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic issues.

The report caused a stir in the blogosphere. Politico’s Ben Smith relayed an off-record administration dismissal of the report; Jeffrey Goldberg got an on-record denial by a White House spokesman; Andrew Sullivan used the opportunity to express similar sentiments about Israel, even calling for an imposed solution and questioning the entire US-Israeli alliance; Shmuel Rosner attacked Emanuel on a wide front, but also stung Israelis for their habit of leaking diplomatic cables.

This morning (January 7 2010,) Yediot publishes other parts of the cable, giving the story a more “positive” spin: Obama will visit Israel by mid 2010 (full text after the cut.)

Here’s a little bit of background to help readers understand the architecture of this type of flap. Yediot is a sensationalist tabloid. The reporter, Itamar Eichner, has made a career leaking cables he gets from senior from senior Foreign Ministry officials. The motivation for the leak is often prosaic — Eichner demands a story and the official gives him the juiciest cable he has in order to maintain the relationship.

Educated speculation: Eichner filed a longer story on Tuesday night. The night editor cut it down significantly, leaving only the text supporting the most sensational headline he could come up with (“tired of you.”) Because of the stir, the leaker felt some heat and shifted it to Eichner, resulting in this morning’s follow-up.

Rahm Emanuel: Obama will come to Israel by mid-year

Itamar Eichner, Yediot, January 7 2010 [page 5]

During a meeting with Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, Yaki Dayan, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said that US President Barack Obama intends to visit Israel during the first half of 2010.

Rahm and his boss

The meeting took place on the fringes of an event that was held several weeks ago  in Los Angeles in honor of Congressman Howard Berman (D). Dayan gave a classified report on the content of the conversation, the main points of which were reported for the first time yesterday in Yedioth Ahronoth.

During the conversation, Emanuel, who is very close to President Obama, expressed the despair of the American administration over the endless dealings with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among other things, he told Dayan: The United States is fed up with the Israelis, who always adopt the right ideas five months too late (evidently referring to the construction freeze in the settlements—I.E.), and so they become ineffective. We’re also fed up with the Palestinians, who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. If there’s no progress, the US will reduce its involvement in the conflict. We also have other subjects to deal with.

When Emanuel and Dayan also spoke about Ehud Olmert’s political plan, Emanuel said something very interesting: “Both sides rejected that plan. Abu Mazen rejected the plan, but Israel did not accept it either.” Emanuel was referring to the fact that Tzippi Livni and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected Olmert’s ideas.

The general idea that the White House chief of staff mentioned to his Israeli interlocutor was that the Americans were tired and frustrated over the fact that they were going out of their way to bring the sides to negotiations, but the Israelis and the Palestinians were doing everything possible not to talk to each other. They were missing the opportunity to reach peace.

Last night, White House officials responded to the question of whether Obama intended to visit Israel sometime within the next several months by saying, “No comment.”

Prime Minister’s Bureau officials said that they have no information about an upcoming visit by Obama to Israel. Regarding Rahm Emanuel’s statements, they commented, “We do not give details of the content of diplomatic conversations. To come to the point, the statements contained no criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The facts on the ground prove precisely that the Prime Minister’s Bureau is working in full coordination with the American administration  in order to move the peace process forward while preserving a mutual good working relationship.”

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Categories: Diplomacy

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