Barack And Bibi

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This week's meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offers food for thought.


When President Obama met the Israeli Prime Minister the topic of Iran was at the top of Benjamin Netanyahu's agenda. And today, Iran test-fired a missile with a range to reach Israel and parts of Europe. Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has been considering the differing U.S. and Israeli diplomatic posters and what it might take for those posters to change.

Daniel Schorr: Word of the Iranian missile test tends to strengthen Prime Minister Netanyahu's position with President Obama that their main concern at this point is not the Palestinians, but the Iranians. Not much of substance seems to have been changed in their overtime meeting on Monday and that's perhaps the good news. At a time when the Middle East situation is in flux, they manage to convey their differences without extenuating them. High on the president's agenda is a two-state solution for the Palestinian problem.

And to that end he wants a cessation of Jewish settlement building on the West Bank. Netanyahu does not let the words Palestinian state pass his lips, nor will he cease settlement activity, while demanding, as a condition for negotiations, that the Palestinian recognize the Jewish state. High on Netanyahu's agenda is addressing Iran's nuclear aspirations coupled with its menacing gestures toward Israel. The Israeli shows little enthusiasm for Mr. Obama's effort at diplomatic engagement with Iran.

He has persuaded the president to set a yearend deadline for that effort. After which, he would like to see stern actions, starting with, but not necessarily ending with economic sanctions. But all this is marking time in a volatile situation. The Iranian missile test adds a new factor, two events in June may change the whole picture. One is the address that President Obama plans to deliver to the Islamic world from Cairo on June 4th. That will provide an opportunity for the president to summon the Arab world to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

The other event that could bring a game change is the Iranian presidential election on June 12th. Iran's aggressive policy has been dictated by the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won a 62 percent landslide four years ago. Since then his popularity has waned, probably because of hard times. And he faces multiple opponents, some of whom are believed to be more moderate than he.

Considering the possibility of a changed landscape a month from now, the American and Israeli leaders have clearly decided to defer argument about their manifest differences.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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