Wednesday, March 24, 2010

After meeting, deafening silence - Laura Rozen and Ben Smith -
...The limits of Netanyahu’s promise became clear minutes before his scheduled meeting with Obama, when the Jerusalem municipality gave final approval to a settler group to proceed on a controversial development in the city, an announcement which prompted a lawmaker from one of Israeli’s liberal opposition parties to call the prime minister a “pyromaniac.”

“This is exactly what we expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to get control of,” a senior U.S. official told POLITICO Tuesday evening. “The current drip-drip-drip of projects in East Jerusalem impedes progress.”

The clearest sign of Netanyahu’s rift with the White House, however, may have been his intense focus on Congress, which has blunted the attempts of many of Obama’s predecessors to pressure the Jewish state.

“We in Congress stand by Israel,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, standing beside Netanyahu Tuesday. “In Congress, we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel.”

But while Congress was speaking publicly with one voice, behind the scenes Netanyahu seemed to be trying to drive a wedge between it and the White House.

The Israeli leader met separately with groups of congressmen and senators, finding support on both sides of the aisle, but particular warmth from Republicans.

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