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Diplomacy: Talking the talk

By Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post

08.09.2010

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post article, "Diplomacy: Talking the Talk."

In the White House speech before the joint meeting with US President Barack Obama, Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II, the prime minister surprised many right away by turning to Abbas and saying, “President Abbas, you are my partner.” As if to pull the rug out from under the feet of the disbelieving skeptics, those who couldn’t believe Netanyahu was speaking in these terms about a man whom he has never publicly refereed to a as a partner before, he repeated the comment the next day at the State Department. “President Abbas, as I said yesterday in our meeting at the White House with the president of the United States, the president of Egypt and the king of Jordan, I see in you a partner for peace.”

His comment came just days after the Geneva Initiative, reportedly funded partly by USAID money, initiated an ad campaign aimed at the Israeli public trying to convince it that the PA was a peace partner. This campaign was necessary, to a large extent, because the message coming from the top has been that there really is no partner on the other side willing – and then able – to make peace and implement it.
 
Just two months earlier, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Netanyahu said he was serious about peace, but cast doubts about the other side.
 
“People dismissed [Menachem] Begin and they dismissed [Anwar] Sadat,” he said. “You should read the mountains of skeptical print that were written about them. I intend to confound the critics and the skeptics.
 
I need a partner. You can’t go on a trapeze, hold out your hand and not have a partner on the other side."