Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to Spin Nothing

Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu is on his way back to Jerusalem after an intensive 72 hours in Washington that may well have determined the future of his 2nd crack at leading his country. While Netanyahu's plane is still in the air, it is quite impossible to discern from the Israeli press what exactly transpired in Washington. It seems pretty clear that a document encompassing a statement of American-encouraged Israeli confidence-building moves designed to set the stage for "proximity talks" was not produced. Despite appealing to AIPAC and Congress, Bibi departed Washington without an understanding with the Obama White House. If you are to believe the left-leaning hyper-critical Haaretz, Bibi's visit to Washington has failed on all accounts and thus returns to Israel a humiliated PM who shot himself in his own foot, having completely overplayed his very weak hand. If you are to believe the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, Israel and the US made great progress in resolving disagreements (though the Post points out that all the rosy talk emanates exclusively from the departing Israeli delegation). When Bibi's plane lands, the knives will come out. A PM cannot come and go from the White House and actually worsen Israel-US relations without some political fallout at home. Expect in Israel for all political hell to break loose.

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