Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bush Met Quietly Last Week With Group of Top Jewish-American Leaders

The "West Bank first" strategy was doubtlessly among the key topics discussed in this unprecedented (and hushed-up) meeting.

As he prepared for a visit this week from Israel's prime minister, President Bush held an unannounced meeting with the top leadership of the United States' Jewish community to discuss the dramatic events in the Middle East and other foreign policy issues.

Bush meets with smaller groups of Jewish leaders from time to time, but the gathering Thursday was the first time he had met with the entire leadership community, about 50 heads of Jewish advocacy, service and religious organizations of different political orientations.

The White House did not disclose the private session on the president's schedule, and officials asked participants to treat Bush's remarks as off the record. Present for the session were the president's most senior aides, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and political adviser Karl Rove. ...

The U.S. consul general in Jerusalem met with Abbas on Saturday and indicated that an international embargo on funds for the Palestinian Authority will be lifted once a new government is sworn in. ...

"I don't think the U.S. strategy to strengthen President Abbas even stands a chance of success," said Haim Malka, a Middle East specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Iran was probably on the agenda as well.

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