World Citizen: Between Obama and Netanyahu, Less Tension than Meets the Eye

World Citizen: Between Obama and Netanyahu, Less Tension than Meets the Eye

When two sides emerge from a diplomatic encounter and both of them can claim to have achieved their goals, we can consider the meeting a success. We don't know exactly what transpired at the White House on Monday, and short of reading the minds of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or of President Barack Obama, we have no way of knowing how they truly believe their meeting went. Still, there are signs that both sides feel they achieved their objectives.

As I predicted, the media focused sharply on the tension over Netanyahu's reluctance to openly embrace the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Common wisdom has it that the two leaders hold divergent views on the ultimate solution to that particular part of the Middle East conundrum, even if observers disagreed on who "won" the diplomatic contest.

The New York Times noted
the priorities on each side: "Mr. Obama wanted Mr. Netanyahu to embrace a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and Mr. Netanyahu wanted Mr. Obama to take a strong stand on the threat to Israel's security posed by Iran." As they walked out of the room, it quoted independent experts as saying, "Mr. Netanyahu appeared to have succeeded."

The Washington Post's David Ignatius saw it quite differently. Obama, he argued, "outmaneuvered" the Israeli prime minister. "Netanyahu," according to Ignatius, "found himself acceding to Obama's plans for exploratory talks with Iran through year-end, even though many Israelis fear this timetable could be dangerous."

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