Well – here in Israel it is a hot day – in more ways than one…
There is tension ahead of the planned meeting today between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Special Peace Envoy Senator George Mitchell. Senator Mitchell has said openly that US President Barak Obama wants immediate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians towards a permanent peace.
All the rumors are circulating about… craftily put together by the spin-meisters of political webs… Some here are saying that Mr. Netanyahu is saying that Mr. Obama is aiming for confrontation with Israel in order to satisfy the Arab world. Some are concerned that the peace plan which Obama will present next month will include positions that will be seen as uncomfortable for Israel. Another rumor is that Obama's Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, is at the center of all the controversy in the relations between the two States.
But what we do know is Mr. Netanyahu got on the phone last night and called President Obama to brief him on his intention to give a diplomatic speech this Sunday. In this address Netanyahu will outline his government's policy on peace and security. Some of his confidants are saying that Mr. Netanyahu will give a surprising speech which will underscore that relations with the US are in sync.
For his part, President Obama reportedly said that he is awaiting Bibi's presentation of his diplomatic plan, and that he (Obama) is looking forward to the speech. But behind the scenes it is appears that the US administration is encouraging the new Prime Minister to show more flexibility in his hard line positions.
In all this, we must remember that there are tactics to negotiations. The big picture is a democratic Middle East. The reality today for this predominately Muslim region is a far cry from what some hope (or perhaps dream) it will be – a place without state and religious violence, an environment of equal rights for women and protection of law for children, an area of openness towards other faiths. This vision will take many generations to achieve. We have to make sure that we don't allow this generation to deny the next of the opportunity to live that dream.
Thanks for your prayers for peace,
Middle East Correspondent