Obama asks Netanyahu for more time for dialogue with Iran

President Barack Obama and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu talked for more than an hour and a half in the White House Tuesday, Nov. 9, all but fifteen minutes without advisers. There were no cameras and the usual post-meeting press briefings, joint communiques and interviews were cancelled. A curt White House statement said: “The president reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues. The president and prime minister also discussed Iran and how to move forward on Middle East peace.”
Netanyahu then headed out to Paris to see President Nicolas Sarkozy later Tuesday.
debkafile reported Monday: US official sources admitted Monday, Nov. 9, that Tehran had finally blocked every compromise offered by the Obama administration through backdoor channels. This and the US president Barack Obama’s Middle East peace initiative have both run into the sand. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Middle East envoy George Mitchell informed him last week after their failed bid to persuade the Palestinians to sit down and talk peace with Israel.
Clinton found Mahmoud Abbas in Abu Dhabi with one foot out of the Palestinian Authority leadership and exploiting Obama’s misplaced reliance on a total Israeli settlement construction freeze on the West Bank and in Jerusalem to strike a rejectionist position for the sake of restoring his tattered credibility on the Palestinian street. On that score, there is nothing much for Obama to discuss with visiting Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Nov. 10, although both found themselves under pressure to meet during Netanyahu’s brief visit to Washington to address the General Assembly of the North American Jewish Federations.
A new Palestinian leader might find a way out of the impasse, but none is in the sights of the US president, the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinians. Even if a reasonable figure was found, it would take a newcomer to the PA leadership a couple of years to find his feet and establish himself. During that period, assuming the lid stayed clamped down on Palestinian terrorist action from the West Bank – which is far from a certainty – the peace track would be frozen solid.
Our Washington sources do not expect Mitchell to return to the Middle East any time soon.
The situation with Iran is much more fraught because time is running out as Iran speeds toward its nuclear and missile goals. In the summer, Netanyahu gave Obama a guarantee to hold off on a military initiative against Iran until the end of the year to give his diplomatic engagement effort a chance.
This deadline is now only seven weeks away. debkafile‘s Washington sources are assuming that the US president will use the Israeli prime minister’s brief Washington visit to ask him to extend this deadline a while longer to permit him a last throw at cajoling Iran to accept a deal over its uranium enrichment. Our sources do not expect Netanyahu to refuse the president, both for the sake of his good standing with the Obama administration and because he too is in no hurry to cross the Rubicon for an act of war against Iran.
Procrastination in the West is Tehran’s greatest boon.
This past year, the Iranians have managed to keep the diplomatic ball they are playing with the world powers up in the air and hold sanctions at bay while using the space to press forward with their military nuclear and missile programs.
Addressing the General Assembly of the North American Jewish Federations, Netanyahu again challenged the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to join Israel for peace talks.
Obama, who called off his speech to the event to attend Fort Hood memorial ceremonies, invited a group of 60 Jewish leaders to a White House reception Tuesday and thanked them for the “countless hours of tzedakah (charity) they put in every day of the week.”
Defense minister Ehud Barak said after meeting defense secretary Robert Gates Monday, “the strategic understanding with the United States and the cooperation on intelligence matters are cornerstones of Israel’s security.”

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