Yesterday we noted how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hours after President Obama's Middle East speech, rejected Obama's proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state based on Israel's borders before the 1967 Six-Day War. But, as Netanyahu heads to the White House today to meet with Obama, we're learning that the afternoon back-and-forth statements by the two leaders is only part of the story. There was a lot of tense diplomacy going on behind the scenes.
The New York Times has the scoop on the diplomatic maneuvering before yesterday's speech. The paper reports that on Thursday morning, only hours before Obama's address, Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a "furious phone call" in which the Israeli prime minister angrily opposed Obama's plan to support Israel's pre-1967 borders for a future Palestinian state. Obama went ahead with the plan anyway. The speech itself, in fact, was scheduled for Thursday to make sure Obama had the first word on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. When Netanyahu learned earlier this spring that Obama would give a major Middle East speech, the Times explains, Netanyahu scheduled his own address to Congress on May 24 in a "move was widely interpreted as an attempt to get out in front of Mr. Obama, by presenting an Israeli peace proposal that, while short of what the Palestinians want, would box in the president."