Mitchell Back to Mideast After Netanyahu Tells Clinton… Something
As an update to my piece this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday called Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s traveling in Russia, to discuss Clinton’s demand that Netanyahu reverse the East Jerusalem settlement expansion that Israel announced last week. That planned expansion resulted in nearly two weeks’ worth of diplomatic tension that both sides are spooling back, although Clinton scotched Mideast envoy George Mitchell’s trip to the region as a sign of her displeasure with Netanyahu.
So what did Netanyahu tell Clinton? No one knows right now, but Mitchell’s trip is back on. Jackson Diehl at The Washington Post is under the impression that the Israelis are proposing a don’t-ask-don’t-tell bargain on settlement construction: the Israelis pledge not to build in East Jerusalem for another couple of years; the U.S. pledges not to be the strictest building inspector. Who knows? It’s not implausible, but Diehl isn’t exactly transparent about whether he’s reporting this out or analyzing what’s going on.
Interestingly, President Obama’s poll numbers among the Israeli public are rebounding, according to a new Ha’aretz poll, with most seeing him as “fair or friendly.”