Media Mention of Hussein Ibish in Politico - June 9, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation have arrived in Washington, ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House Wednesday.

“The whole entourage is here,” the American Task Force for Palestine’s Hussein Ibish said. “The real ask they have is really for the U.S. to tell Israel to simply be more serious about peace negotiations, to talk about the substantive issues, in a more permanent, serious way, and not kind of dance around the problem – to focus on a well in Nablus or a procedural question.”

Meantime, Israeli diplomats said they expected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Obama at the White House on June 28-29.

"The President looks forward to receiving President Abbas to 1) review progress in the proximity talks and discuss our common efforts to achieve Middle East peace; 2) to reinforce our strong support for the Palestinian people through the Palestinian Authority and its state-building effort; and 3) to review ideas for a long-term strategy that advances a better life for the people of Gaza," the White House said.

With a partial Israeli freeze on new West Bank settlement construction currently set to expire in September, Obama will also urge Abbas to move from the U.S.-mediated Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks that have been underway for the past month to direct negotiations "to address all the final status issues, and to ensure that neither side take provocative steps that could stand in the way of progress," the White House said.

Obama and Abbas will also discuss "steps to improve life for the people of Gaza, including US support for specific projects to promote economic development and greater quality of life, as well as a long term strategy for progress," it said.

The Obama administration will announce "some projects approved for Gaza and the West Bank, so that Abbas can show some deliverables," a Washington Middle East hand interpreted.

While Abbas supports the Obama administration's efforts to press Israel to loosen the siege of Gaza, which is controlled by his Fatah faction's political rival Hamas, he prefers it "to be done in a way that preserves regional stability and doesn’t accrue more power to Hamas,” the American Task Force for Palestine's Ibish said.

Abbas meets one on one with Obama at the White House Wednesday at 11am, followed by an expanded meeting and a press availabiity.

Meantime, former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), a close ally of the White House on Middle East peace issues, has organized a dinner for Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, Wednesday night with some 30 American Jewish leaders and retired officials.

"We met with Abu Mazen a few weeks ago in the region and he asked us ... if we would organize a meeting with the heads of the major Jewish organizations to have a frank conversation," said Zvika Krieger, of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, which Wexler heads.

Among those expected to attend, Alan Solow of the Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, AIPAC's Lee Rosenberg, ADL's Abe Foxman, as well as former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and former Bush NSC official Elliott Abrams.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with Obama at the end of the month, sources said Tuesday, adding that it would not just be a "hugs and kisses" visit but a working meeting. The Israeli leader's previously scheduled visit last week was postponed in the wake of the Israeli interception of a Gaza aid flotilla in which eight Turks and one Turkish American were killed.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017