Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

In Mideast, Clinton Turns Up the Caution

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 8 marzo, 2009

ANKARA, Turkey — On the road with Hillary Rodham Clinton, two distinct secretaries of state are emerging: the loose, unscripted politician who roamed Asia’s neighborhoods and schools, and the tightly controlled diplomat who marched through the Middle East.

From Egypt to Israel and the West Bank, Mrs. Clinton dropped the penchant for plain-spoken analysis she had shown in Asia for a more formal style based on time-tested diplomatic formulations.

When Mrs. Clinton was asked in Ramallah how she felt about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a cause of strife with Palestinians, she said the United States would raise “the issue” with the next Israeli government. Asked about it again in Brussels, she recited the official American position that settlements were “unhelpful.”

In Israel, Mrs. Clinton did not publicly broach settlements at all. And she only gingerly raised the issue of border crossings to Gaza, which Israel has mostly kept closed, drawing criticism from European leaders and human rights groups.

She wrapped up her weeklong trip on Saturday, here in Turkey’s sprawling capital, by announcing that President Obama plans to visit Turkey in the next month or so. She declined to say whether Mr. Obama would make Turkey the site of a much-anticipated speech to the Islamic world, but another administration official later said he would not give the speech in Turkey.

Some of Mrs. Clinton’s earlier caution is a reflection of the treacherous landscape in the Middle East, where a misplaced phrase can ruffle feathers among constituencies back home and where the grinding business of negotiation takes precedence over more personal encounters. The potential for missteps was even greater this time, with the Israelis in the throes of putting together a new government.

Asia was not without its land mines — North Korea’s ailing dictator, for one — but Mrs. Clinton sidestepped one of the biggest by playing down human rights concerns in her talks with China. And the general emphasis of that trip was much more geared toward climate change and public diplomacy.

Some Middle East analysts said the Obama administration had calculated that immediately pushing Israel would make no sense — with so little to gain in a largely paralyzed peace process, and so many thorny domestic challenges of its own.

“Pressuring Israel because we’re frustrated with them or because we want to make nice with the Arabs is a dumb policy,” said Aaron David Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “Pressuring Israel at the right moment during a peace negotiation that actually promises to produce a breakthrough is much smarter.”

Mrs. Clinton’s trip did produce two minor breakthroughs: she sent two emissaries to Syria, with which the United States has had little contact after the Bush administration withdrew its ambassador in 2005. And Mrs. Clinton proposed a major conference on Afghanistan, to which all its neighbors, including Iran, would be invited. On Saturday, the Iranian government reacted positively, setting up the prospect of the first face-to-face meeting with the Obama administration.

On Saturday, the American emissaries to Syria — Jeffrey D. Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Daniel B. Shapiro, a senior director at the National Security Council — met for three and a half hours with Syria’s foreign minister, its deputy prime minister and other officials.

“We found a lot of common ground today,” Mr. Feltman said in a conference call with reporters, declining to share details. “It’s our view that Syria can play a constructive role in the region.”

After a meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, Mrs. Clinton said she was grateful that Turkey had brokered indirect talks between Syria and Israel. She gave a strong signal that the United States wanted to include Syria in a comprehensive peace process.

“The importance of this track of the peace effort cannot be overstated, and Turkey has played a very important role,” she said.

Once Mrs. Clinton left the Middle East, she loosened up. She joked with reporters after a linguistic gaffe in which she handed a red “reset button” to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, as a gift, only to be told by him that the Russian inscription was a mistranslation.

In Ankara, Mrs. Clinton appeared on a popular television talk show, “Come and Join Us,” a format to which she last subjected herself in Indonesia. She confided to the hostesses that she told her daughter the “fashion gene skipped a generation.” When a young man in the audience asked her when she last fell in love, she replied, “It was so long ago, with my husband.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/world/europe/08diplo.html?ref=world

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