Obama meets Netanyahu, Abbas for a photo-op. His summit with Medvedev is important
As debkafile reported last week, US president Barack Obama will host Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at UN headquarters in New York Tuesday, Sept. 22. He is undeterred by Palestinian pre-conditions for the summit. But because Abbas refused to soften his ultimatum for a prolonged settlement construction freeze that would also cover Jerusalem, the tripartite summit will be a photo-op rather than the occasion for kicking off Middle East peace talks personally sponsored by the US president.
The more substantial meeting awaiting Obama next week takes place the next day with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. It will be his chance to test Russian willingness for cooperation on harsh measures against Iran in return for giving up US missile defense deployments in East Europe.
debkafile‘s Moscow sources expect the Kremlin to be more amenable to sanctions against Iran than before but not as much as Washington would like, that is measures ranging from an embargo on refined petrol products and a naval blockade on Iran’s shores.
The Iranian issue will continue to be aired two days later at the G20 summit taking place in Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, followed by a Six-Power conference to line up tactics for the talks with Iran which open in Istanbul on Oct. 1.
Our Washington sources stress that whereas the Middle East summit will be little more than a symbolic occasion, the latter encounters are vitally important for the US president:
Firstly, domestic political criticism of Obama for giving way to the Russians on East European missile interceptor bases, an issue bearing on American national security, will mount sharply if he fails to elicit from Moscow a substantial return in the coin of Iranian sanctions with teeth.
Secondly, his failure to achieve a consensus with Moscow on sanctions harsh enough to deter Israel from striking Iran’s nuclear installations would mean he has missed the key target of his concessions to the Russians on the anti-missile bases. He had hoped to contrive with Moscow a strong lever for dissuading the Netanyahu government from acting. Failure to do so, would leave the door open for Israel to exercise its military option after all.
The Israeli prime minister is expected to address this issue in his speech to the UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept. 24.