Netanyahu to meet Obama, but not Clinton
Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, July 1 2010 [page 7; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to leave next week for Washington, where he will meet with US President Barack Obama. Rather curiously, he is not scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the course of his visit to Washington.
Contrary to his previous visit in March, this time the US administration intends to create the impression, outwardly at least, that the severe crisis in the relationship has passed and that the relations between the two countries are as strong as ever. In order to bolster that impression, the two leaders will meet the media together and will be photographed. As opposed to the previous time, Netanyahu will also be put up at Blair House, the official White House guesthouse, and not at a hotel.
That said, officials in Washington are waiting apprehensively for the answers that Netanyahu will provide in the course of the meeting, which is expected to address the transition from the proximity talks that are at an impasse to direct negotiations. Obama, apparently, will demand that Netanyahu agree to extend the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria beyond the September 26 expiration date in hope of securing PA Chairman Abu Mazen’s consent to begin direct talks with Israel. For the time being, the forum of seven [Israeli cabinet members - RP] is divided over this issue.
Netanyahu will also meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and with Vice President Joe Biden. As noted, he is not scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be leaving for a tour of Europe at the same time. Israeli diplomatic sources said: “Clinton isn’t relevant and is out of the circle of influence. Mitchell has taken over the peace process to a great extent and Obama, in any event, is the important person in this story because he is the one who decides.”
So little Hilary won't be feeling chuffed that she gets sent away while the 'big boys' get their act together, and cuddle each other.