Obama’s staying in Washington, what will Netanyahu do?

The ongoing U.S.-Israel diplomatic tiff had already made Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Washington visit next week – he’ll keynote the AIPAC policy conference here – a little awkward.

Today it got awkwarder (is that a word?) The White House announced that President Barack Obama’s once-postponed Indonesia trip is being put off again – this time until June – so he can lobby for his health insurance reform proposal.

That means – gasp – he’ll be in town when Bibi gets here, leading to the inevitable question: will the Prime Minister get an Oval Office audience?

If he doesn’t, will that be taken as the clearest sign yet of Obama’s displeasure with Bibi and his policies? If he does, will the prime minister get a presidential tongue lashing for his refusal to freeze Israeli building in East Jerusalem, or will Obama use the occasion to tamp down a diplomatic crisis that is causing heartburn on both sides of the Atlantic?

Or will Bibi send his own message by not seeking a presidential meeting at all while conspicuously meeting with Republican leaders eager to blast administration foreign policy, and its Israel policy in particular? That will be a pretty clear signal the diplomatic battle is just beginning.

There’s one other possibility: Bibi may suddenly find that he has pressing business in Jerusalem that will keep him home next week, out of harm’s way.

It’s not going to be a dull week, news wise.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.