Bintel Blog

Obama’s Busy Day: Bibi, Shimon, Tzipi, Two Ehuds and a Pair of Palestinians

By Daniel Treiman

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Barack Obama is going to be pretty busy on Wednesday.

His campaign has announced that he will be meeting in Israel that day with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Likud opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. As if that’s not enough for a day’s work, he’ll also be meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, and prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

Politico’s Ben Smith thinks that Bibi Netanyahu is “[p]erhaps the most striking name” on Obama’s itinerary. Smith doesn’t elaborate, but perhaps his “perhaps” is due to a statement Obama made back in February referencing a certain Israeli political party of which Bibi is a member.

“I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel,” Obama told a Jewish audience in Cleveland. (That remark, incidentally, prompted to Ha’aretz’s Shmuel Rosner to opine that Obama had made “a questionable comment that can be seen as meddling in the internal politics of Israel.”)

As to Obama’s powwow with Netanyahu during his current world tour, however, it’s worth noting that the Likud-nik isn’t the only right-wing opposition leader with whom the presidential hopeful is meeting: He’s also sitting down with the leader of Britain’s Tories later in the week.

UPDATE: Obama’s busy Wednesday is getting busier: His aides say he also plans to visit the embattled town of Sderot, as well as Yad Vashem, and maybe even a stop at the Western Wall.

UPDATE II: Ha’aretz has more details of Obama’s itinerary for his visit to Israel and the West Bank. Given Obama’s packed schedule, it’s not surprising that many of his meetings look like they’ll be less than an hour long. It does seem, however, as if the presidential hopeful will be spending quite a bit of time with the woman who may very well be Israel’s next prime minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who will be accompanying him on a visit to Sderot.


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