Obama. To visit Holy Land soon?
Emanuel. Despair over Israeli-Palestinian conflict
US President Barack Obama plans to visit Israel in the first half of 2010, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told Israel's Consul General in Los Angele Jacob Dayan recently.
The conversation took place during an event held in Los Angeles several weeks ago in honor of Democratic Congress Member Howard Berman. Dayan delivered a secret report on the conversation, which was first reported by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.
Emanuel, one of President Obama's closest associates, expressed the American administration's despair over the ongoing engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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He told Dayan that the United States has had enough of the Israelis "always adopting the right ideas five months too late (apparently referring to the settlement construction freeze) and making them inefficient."
He added that the Americans have also had enough of the Palestinians, who "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
If no progress is made, Emanuel said, the US will reduce its involvement in the conflict, as "we have other issues to deal with."
Emanuel and Dayan also discussed former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's peace plan, which the White House chief of staff said was rejected by both sides. "Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) rejected this plan, but Israel failed to accept it as well," he stated, referring to the fact that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni turned down Olmert's ideas.
The general idea relayed by Emanuel to his Israeli interlocutor was that the Americans were sick and tired of going out of their way to bring the parties to negotiations, while the Israelis and Palestinians were doing all they could in order not to talk to each other. They are missing the opportunity to reach peace, he said.
The White House refused to comment Wednesday on whether the American president planned to visit Israel in the coming months.
The Prime Minister's Office said it had no information on an upcoming visit by Obama. As for the remarks made by Emanuel, the office stated that "we do not detail the content of diplomatic messages. As to the case in question, the remarks contained no criticism against Prime Minister Netanyahu.
"The facts on the ground prove that the Prime Minister's Office works in full cooperation with the American administration in order to restart the peace process together, while maintaining a mutual system of good working relations."