Obama, Netanyahu, and Israel’s Bomb

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The daily White House press briefing on Monday was dominated by questions about President Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Did Obama squeeze any concessions out of Bibi on settlements and a two-state solution? Who got more out of the encounter? Is there any reason for Obama to be hopeful about the Middle East other than that he’s a hopeful guy? Was it significant that Obama talked tough about Iran after the session?

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, per his job description, said nothing in response to any of this that could be deemed newsworthy. He offered no details about the talks, other than to say they were “warm” and “constructive.” He did say that the one-on-one portion of the meeting ran about half an hour longer than had been scheduled.

But here’s one question Gibbs didn’t have to field: Given President Obama’s stated commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, did he talk to the Israeli prime minister about Israel’s nuclear arsenal and about its refusal to join the Nonproliferation Treaty? Does Obama believe this is an important matter that warrants his direct involvement?

That topic just didn’t come up in the press room. I was there, but. alas, Gibbs didn’t call on me. And the Israeli bomb seemed to be on nobody else’s mind.

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