Washington (CNN) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will next meet with President Barack Obama in Washington on July 6 for talks originally planned for earlier this month, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Emanuel told ABC's "This Week" program that Netanyahu's fifth visit of the Obama administration would discuss the Middle East peace process and other regional issues.
Netanyahu had been scheduled to meet with Obama in Washington on June 1, but the Israeli prime minister postponed the trip after Israel's military raid on an aid flotilla headed to blockaded Gaza resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard one of the ships.
Thomas was also dropped by her agent Nine Speakers, Inc. Sunday, CNN has learned, and Craig Crawford, who coauthored “Listen Up, Mr. President” with Thomas, said in a blog post that he “will no longer be working with Helen on our book projects.”
Thomas has apologized for her comments that she made to Rabbilive.com about Israel.
Specifically, she was asked, “Any comments on Israel?”
“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” she responded.
The interviewer then asked “Any better comments on Israel?” To which Thomas said, “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German’s. It’s not Poland’s.”
Thomas was then asked where the Jews in Israel should go and what they should do? Thomas responded, “They should go home” which the White House reporter identified as “Poland, Germany . . . and America and everywhere else.”
Thomas is considered the “dean” of the White House press corps after decades covering the presidency. The syndicated columnist for Hearst Corporation’s newspapers holds a privileged seat in the front row of the White House press briefing room where she regularly fires sharp questions on the major issues of the day at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
In the apology posted on her website Friday, Thomas said she “deeply” regretted her comments. “They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”
But her apology was not enough for Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton.
(CNN) - When Rabbi Jack Moline recently confronted his friend Rahm Emanuel about mounting Jewish anxiety over the Obama administration's Mideast policy, he was surprised at the White House Chief of Staff's response: to invite Moline and more than a dozen other rabbis to the White House for a nearly two-hour conversation.
But what really surprised Moline, who leads a northern Virginia synagogue, was that Emanuel invited the whole group back a couple of weeks ago for another long sit-down.
"We invited rabbis who'd been supportive of the president since the election," said Moline, who helped organize the two meetings of rabbis from across the country. "And who found themselves concerned about his approach to the Middle East process."
As the Obama administration steps up efforts to restart the Middle East peace process - with U.S.-moderated talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders starting earlier this month and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to visit the White House next week - it has launched a simultaneous campaign to allay fears within the American Jewish community over how that process will work.
Washington (CNN) - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri meets with President Barack Obama on Monday on his first official visit to Washington after assuming office, the White House announced.
The two are expected to talk about a broad range of issues, including regional peace and security.
These are the first face-to-face talks between the two men since the United States moved to put an ambassador back in Syria, a country with which Lebanon has a difficult relationship.
Washington pulled its ambassador from Damascus in 2005, after Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was killed in a huge car bombing, which the United States blamed on Syria.
Syria denied the accusations, but an investigation by a United Nations Special Tribunal found Syrian government involvement.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama praised the recent start of indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders during a phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, the White House said.
According to the White House, Obama and Abbas discussed the need to move from proximity talks to direct negotiations in order to reach agreement on permanent status issues "as soon as possible."
The first round of talks began Sunday after the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee approved initiating the negotiations after a three-hour meeting in Ramallah in the West Bank a day earlier.
U.S. special envoy George Mitchell is brokering the talks.
In the Tuesday phone call, the White House said, Obama "reiterated his strong support for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel" - a crucial issue for the Palestinians.
Washington (CNN) - Only a third of Americans approve of the way President Obama's handling the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a new national poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday morning indicates that 35 percent of the public gives the president a thumbs up on how he's dealing with the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, with 44 percent saying they disapprove, and just over one in five unsure.
This stands in contrast with how Americans feel about Obama's overall handling of foreign policy, with 48 percent approving and 42 percent saying they disapprove.
According to the poll, two-thirds of Jewish voters disapprove of how the president's handling Israeli-Palestinian relations, with 28 percent saying they approve. Jewish voters were big backers of Obama in the 2008 presidential election, with exit polls indicating that nearly eight of ten backed the Democratic candidate.
Two-thirds of people questioned in the survey say that the president should be a strong supporter of Israel but, by a 42 percent to 34 percent margin, voters say Obama's not a strong supporter of Israel.
Jerusalem (CNN) - Israel's defense minister expressed concern Monday about deteriorating relations with the United States and warned that "the growing alienation" with President Obama's administration "is not a good thing for the state of Israel."
Speaking to Israel radio on the commemoration of Memorial Day, Ehud Barak said it was important "to act to change our relations with the United States." Barak is the center-left Labor Party leader who serves in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's largely right-wing government.
"We are tied with the U.S. in bonds of many years of friendship, of a strategic partnership. From them we get 3 billion dollars every year, from them we get the best planes. They stood by us when [we] needed to fight. ..."
He said that Israel has American weapons worth billions of dollars that Israel would use "if, God forbid, a war is forced upon us."
Washington (CNN) – Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. said Sunday that relations were good between the two longtime allies despite the appearance of a strain in recent weeks. And Ambassador Michael Oren repeatedly emphasized the need for the Palestinians to participate in peace talks in order to broker an accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
A mini dust-up began between Israel and the U.S. last month when Israel announced plans to build housing on disputed land in East Jerusalem. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement “insulting” in part because it was made while Vice President Biden was visiting Israel and the West Bank. Though both sides have maintained throughout that the bond between the two nations remains strong, relations once again appeared strained when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a recent visit to the White House where he was not greeted with the same fanfare that the Obama administration has rolled out for other world leaders.
Asked about Netanyahu’s low-key visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said last week on CNN’s State of the Union that “no snub was intended.” Axelrod characterized President Obama’s behind-closed-doors meeting with Netanyahu as “a working meeting.” While Axelrod echoed the familiar refrain that Israel remains a close ally of the United States, he also said that “sometimes, part of friendship is expressing yourself bluntly.”
Appearing Sunday on State of the Union, Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., sought to explain Israel’s approach to Jerusalem.
“Israel has a policy that goes back to 1967,” Oren told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “This is not the policy of Benjamin Netanyahu... that is, that Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel. Under Israeli law, it has the same status as Tel Aviv. And our policy is that every Arab, every Jew has a right to build anywhere in the city legally as they – an Arab and Jew would have a right to build legally anywhere in a city in the United States, including in this city, in Washington, D.C.
“That’s our policy. The policy is not going to change.”
Oren added, “But we understand – we understand that Jerusalem is sensitive.”
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for more than three hours Tuesday evening amid a dispute over Israel's decision to build new Jewish housing on disputed land in East Jerusalem.
The Obama administration has pushed to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and has called on Israel to stop building settlements on territory it captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Netanyahu's meeting at the White House came the day after he defended his government's plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move that has strained ties with Israel's largest ally.
The Israeli leader arrived after a show of solidarity with leaders of Congress from both parties, during which he thanked the U.S. lawmakers for their "constant support" and "unflagging" friendship.
"Even though the challenges are immense, our will and our partnership is also immense," Netanyahu said at an appearance with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Moscow, Russia (CNN) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Russia on Thursday to jump-start talks on two diplomatic fronts: a new nuclear treaty between the countries and the stalled Mideast peace process.
Clinton will spend Thursday in talks with senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Both sides have expressed optimism that they can reach a long-delayed agreement to reduce their nuclear warheads to about 1,500 each before an international summit on nuclear non-proliferation in Washington next month.
The two sides have been trying to negotiate a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired in December.