Hard information about the talks between Obama and Netanyahu is notable by its absence, but that hasn’t stopped the Israeli press – or anyone else, for that matter – writing about it. According to the Jerusalem Post, the talks “created the impression of a deep crisis in relations” and the White House has informed the Palestinian Authority (PA) that no progress has been made on halting settlement construction in East Jerusalem. Haaretz says “Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama … has been defined as a failure.” Ynet reports that at a Thursday meeting of Jerusalem city council, Mayor Barkat announced that there is no settlement freeze in east Jerusalem and “construction in Jerusalem is more important than anywhere else“. True enough. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post says another 200 East Jerusalem units got the initial go-ahead three weeks ago.
What do the analysts and columnists think? “Netanyahu leaves U.S. disgraced, isolated and weaker” – Aluf Benn in Haaretz says Bibi’s US trip saw him “surrender control” of the diplomatic agenda, something that a plaintive op-ed by Eitan Haber on Ynet seems to confirm, noting that Netanyahu “was received as if he was a lowly official from Senegal” – either a brutally honest realpolitik analogy or in very poor taste. Yoram Ettinger, also on Ynet sees Hillary Clinton spearheading the “the psychological war against Netanyahu” designed not just to enforce a 10 month settlement freeze but to roll back Israeli borders to 1967.
The US may have some very concrete confidence building measures in mind for Israel to make, including handing Abu Dis over to exclusive PA control, claims Ynet.
On the military front, General Petraus is making nice after his remarks were interpreted by some to say that Israeli policy endangered US military personnel in a conversation with the IDF chief of staff, Gaby Ashkenazi. The fuss has not stopped a new arms deal for three Hercules aircraft being completed. But Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense says lack of a peace deal does threaten US security as common enemies exploit the conflict.