debkafile Exclusive: The White House intimates to Israeli PM that his scheduled visit to Washington next Monday, Nov. 13, would be untimely

The Democratic midterm election victory and the defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld coming replacement by Robert Gates will usher in radical Middle East policy changes that will apply also to Israel. For now, policy-making is in a state of flux, and as long as Bush has not got together with Democratic leaders to forge a bipartisan position, there is no point in the prime minister’s visit, it was indicated.
A senior US official told debkafile sources Wednesday night: Olmert would be wise not to insist on the visit going ahead on time,” but rather take note of the president’s stress in his first speech after the election that he is waiting for the bipartisan Iraq commission headed by ex-secretary of state James Baker and former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton to submit their report.
Bush means to base his work with the Democrats on these findings. Since the report is not just about Iraq but encompasses the full range of US policies for the Middle East and the Arab and Muslim world which will require time to air, the Olmert visit next week would be premature.
According to this official, the Baker-Hamilton panel is charting drastic changes in administration policy on Israel, whose speedy implementation is recommended as the key to extricating the US from its imbroglio in Iraq. Hinging the solution of Middle East problems as a whole on the Palestinian-Israeli issue has always been the Democratic way. It is favored in particular by Nancy Pelosi of California who, as her party’s candidate for next Speaker of the House of Representatives, will become one of Washington’s most influential politicians.
This was also Baker’s line under George Bush senior in the 1980s, when he dragged prime minister Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid Peace Conference against his will.
The White House also has a bone to pick with Olmert over his remark in a television program this week when he said that two world-class leaders were working to arrange a meeting for him with Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora. US officials deny this and say this indiscretion placed in jeopardy the efforts to bolster the Lebanese government and even put Siniora in danger of his life.
Olmert has a perfectly valid pretext for postponing his Washington visit in the extremely high security tension following the Beit Hanoun episode

Print Friendly, PDF & Email