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The Day In Israel: Wednesday May 26th, 2010

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to meet with US President Barack Obama next Tuesday.

obama netanyahuIsraeli officials said that Obama wanted to meet with Netanyahu soon, before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington for his White House meeting in another few weeks, due to the crisis in relations between Israel and the U.S. and the substantial criticism Obama has taken over it, both from congressmen and from American Jewish leaders.

In recent weeks, the White House has made great efforts to counter this criticism. Last week, Obama met with Jewish congressmen to stress his commitment to Israel’s security, while two key aides – Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro – held similar talks with Jewish leaders. To concretize the administration’s commitment to Israel’s security, Obama also approved additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system for defense against short-range rockets.

The Israeli sources said that Washington wants to try to obliterate the memory of the last White House meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. At that meeting, in March, the press was barred and the White House did not even release a joint photo of the two leaders. This treatment – so different from the warm and well-publicized meetings Obama had held with various Arab leaders who visited Washington – was widely viewed as a deliberate attempt to humiliate Netanyahu.

That meeting also revealed serious differences of opinion between the two men on the Palestinian issue, and especially Jewish construction in East Jerusalem. And on top of that, Netanyahu had not come prepared with the answers Obama sought regarding Israel’s positions on various final-status issues.

The White House feared the upcoming meeting with Abbas, meant to show Obama’s support for the Palestinian leader, would draw unfavorable comparisons with the disastrous March meeting with Netanyahu, thereby deepening the crisis with Israel – and sparking more criticism of Obama’s Israel policy. By holding a positive meeting with Netanyahu before Abbas arrives, the administration hopes to deflect such comparisons.

That is why Israeli officials expect that, in contrast to both of Netanyahu’s previous meetings with Obama, this one will include a joint photo of the two leaders in the Oval Office and perhaps even a joint press conference.

On Monday, Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, made very positive comments about Netanyahu in two speeches he gave in Washington. He praised Netanyahu for his efforts to advance the peace process, such as the declaration of a 10-month freeze on construction in the settlements and the removal of many Israel Defense Forces checkpoints in the West Bank.

Mitchell also said he believes Netanyahu is capable of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Having spent many hours with both Netanyahu and Abbas, Mitchell said, he is convinced that both men are very serious in their intention to reach such a deal.

I assume this means they’ll also be having supper together.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

8:45PM: Following on from The Guardian report claiming  Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons, The Guardian’s Chris McGreal provides what he says are “the memos and minutes that confirm Israel’s nuclear stockpile.”

CiF Watch begs to differ.

5:12PM: PA President Mahmoud Abbas has admitted the “second intifada” was a mistake.

Army Radio quoted Abbas as saying in an interview with Egyptian television station Nile TV, “This was one of the biggest mistakes of our lives. (Former PA leader Yasser) Arafat did not want the second intifada to spread, but he was unable to stop it.

“My motto since the outbreak of the second intifada was that it must be stopped, because armed activity destroys us, and it indeed destroyed us,” he said, adding that Arafat was a “pragmatist rather than an extremist.”

In other words, it was a mistake because of the impact it had on the palestinians, and not the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives, were maimed or otherwise adversely affected by their terrorism.

Abbas also had this to say:

“Peace could be achieved in a week” if the Netanyahu government would actively pursue it, Abbas claimed.

No. Peace could be achieved if the palestinians proved they can resist the temptation to kill us.

1:28PM: Very well put together video on Israel’s critical security needs for a viable peace.

1:18PM: Police are hunting for an Arab man and woman suspected of attempting to carry out a terror attack in Tel Aviv today.

Large police forces, aided by police helicopters, dogs and sappers, embarked on an extensive manhunt on Wednesday after a man and a woman suspected of attempting to carry out a terror attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.

The police were summoned when passengers on a number 5 bus reported that a man, who was sitting in the back seat of the bus wearing a heavy coat, suddenly yelled out “itbach al yahud” in Arabic (slaughter the Jews).

The frightened passengers fled from the bus, which stopped on Dizengoff Street. Some of the passengers reported that a woman at the front of the bus tried to prevent them from exiting the bus.

The police forces were operating out of the junction of Dizengoff and Ben Gurion streets.

9:32AM: More news from the Apartheid state of Israel:

The Big Zol supermarket chain plans to open 15 new stores in Arab towns within the next five years with an investment of NIS 80 million (about $20.9 million).

In preparation for the move, the supermarket ordered a survey from the Geocartographic Institute of 500 Arab Israeli respondents. The survey found that 68% of Israel’s Arab citizens prefer to purchase Israeli-made products.

The poll was conducted in Arabic among Muslim, Christian, and Druze respondents in a sample representative of the adult Arab population in Israel.

The survey also found that 50% of Arab shoppers buy their groceries in local mini-markets. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in Arab patrons making their food purchases at supermarkets in Jewish towns, with a 37% increase.

I assume the Israel-made products include those made in areas of Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as “settlements.”

Which is sure to piss off the palestinians.

6:22AM: More on the political fallout in Australia after the decision to expel an Israeli diplomat.

6:15AM: Mahmoud vs Mahmoud: PA President Mahmoud Abbas has ripped Iran for interfering in palestinian affairs.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas harshly slammed (as opposed to gently slamming? – ed) the Iranian regime Tuesday for interfering in Palestinian affairs.

In an interview with Egyptian television, Abbas said that Hamas was refusing to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation because of an Iranian veto.

“We, the Palestinian people, are like a hijacked airplane,” he said. “The decision-making power is not in our hands, but rather, in the hands of the Iranians. For that reason, the Palestinian people’s unity, just like the plane, is also hijacked.”

And they sure are experts on hijacked planes.

6:04AM: It is still not clear what will happen to the flotilla of fools coming to Gaza from Turkey, with the military still waiting to receive a final order of what to do from Prime Minister Netanyahu.

They might not want to get too close to Lebanon though.

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Large police forces, aided by police helicopters, dogs and sappers, embarked on an extensive manhunt on Wednesday after a man and a woman suspected of attempting to carry out a terror attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street.

The police were summoned when passengers on a number 5 bus reported that a man, who was sitting in the back seat of the bus wearing a heavy coat, suddenly yelled out “itbach al yahud” in Arabic (slaughter the Jews).

The frightened passengers fled from the bus, which stopped on Dizengoff Street. Some of the passengers reported that a woman at the front of the bus tried to prevent them from exiting the bus.

The police forces were operating out of the junction of Dizengoff and Ben Gurion streets.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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