U.S.-Israel summits are generally pretty predictable affairs, but today’s Barack Obama – Benjamin Netanyahu meeting takes the honey cake.
A kiss-and-make-up session, we learned weeks ago. A chance for Netanyahu to demonstrate all the “unprecedented” things he’s done to advance the peace process, to use a word that pro-Israel groups here can’t seem to get enough of. An opportunity for Obama, chastened by the intense political reaction to his earlier dealing with Netanyahu, to show he’s a nice guy who really likes Israel and can get along with Netanyahu.
Hours before this tightly scripted diplomatic drama, the Washington Post had the best lead paragraph on the summit: “Two months after a tense meeting at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama are set to meet on Tuesday with a deceptively simple mission: getting their picture taken together.”
You can tell Netanyahu knew the outcome in advance because he was scheduled to travel to New York on Wednesday for a round of TV interviews and for a meeting with a gathering of top Jewish leaders, not something he’d do after contentious, difficult meetings.
You don’t need to be a mind reader to know what he’ll say: U.S.-Israel relations are strong, he gets along with Obama, they made progress in talks on Iran and his desire for “direct” talks with the Palestinians.
Not high drama, but a bit of calm both sides needed – possibly before the next diplomatic storm.