They’re backing down

on 69 Comments

Rahm assures Eric Cantor that Biden never told Netanyahu that our Israel/Palestine policy is endangering Americans overseas, as was reported.

Petraeus denies that he ever asked to get Palestinian territories moved into his command, out of concern that the occupation was endangering Americans. At least the language is formal:

“I have never made a formal recommendation to add Israel to CENTCOM,” he told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “but we certainly keep a close eye there.”

69 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    March 16, 2010, 3:40 pm

    Gee, howdy. Color me utterly shocked.

  2. Shmuel
    March 16, 2010, 3:41 pm

    And the Haaretz top story about an hour ago had Clinton saying that Israel had to demonstrate commitment to the peace process, but that the Palestinians were to blame for the stalled talks. I’m afraid that backbpedalling of this magnitude in Washington may affect the earth’s orbit. Prepare for tidal waves.

  3. Paul Woodward
    March 16, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Read carefully. A lot of people have been confused about this for obvious reasons. Petraeus never asked for Israel to be brought under CENTCOM – just the Palestinian territories.

    The United States does not have adversaries under the same command area because each command handles military aid programs. For that reason, Pakistan comes under CENTCOM, but India under PACOM. Likewise, Lebanon (which is still officially at war with Israel) is under CENTCOM and Israel itself under EUCOM.

    Hence Petraeus says “I never made a formal recommendation to add Israel to CENTCOM” – he has not apparently denied recommending that the Palestinian territories come under CENTCOM.

    • sky7i
      March 16, 2010, 3:49 pm

      Excellent point, Paul. This should be in the body of the story.

    • MRW
      March 16, 2010, 3:51 pm


      Would the Palestinian Territories under CENTCOM render them safer if Israel attacked again?

      • Paul Woodward
        March 16, 2010, 3:58 pm

        No, I don’t think that’s the issue. This would really be a way of telegraphing to the other Arab states that the US recognizes that the Palestinian territories are not part of Israel — an important point to emphasize.

    • Chaos4700
      March 16, 2010, 3:51 pm

      That’s great, but Stars and Stripes isn’t making that distinction. Is anybody else?

      • dalybean
        March 16, 2010, 3:53 pm

        The entire story is here. link to

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 4:02 pm

        …So Petraeus did specifically backpedal? That’s what I get from the Foreign Policy. There he’s quoted as addressing the Palestinian territories specifically, not Israel.

      • Paul Woodward
        March 16, 2010, 4:11 pm

        Petraeus says he “never made that a formal recommendation” but as the original FP article said, the proposition was “dead on arrival” — it’s hardly surprising it would not have made it into a formal recommendation.

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 4:22 pm

        Oh, so it wasn’t actually backpedalling at all. Because he never actually committed to anything like that at all in the first place.

        Yeah, I’m feeling much better about that now.

      • Les
        March 16, 2010, 6:38 pm

        Israel does not include territory beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem, or Gaza.

      • Avi
        March 16, 2010, 6:56 pm

        I do find it rather humorous how the US decided to divide up the region. A cursory look at this map shows two inconsistencies, the first is the pink color intruding in a sea of orange (Israel), and the second is the orange color intruding in a sea of yellow (Egypt). Certainly, someone at DoD hasn’t learned to color inside the lines:

        link to

    • Tuyzentfloot
      March 16, 2010, 4:02 pm

      General Dayton, who was doing something important with the Palestinian security forces, does he fall under CENTCOM?

      • Citizen
        March 16, 2010, 4:15 pm

        Good question, Petraeus specifically mentioned Dayton’s work under McCain’s questioning after Petraeus had said he never officially recommended that
        the I-P conflict area should be brought under CENTCOM, even while the General
        also said that the I-P conflict has a tremendous effect on CENTOM’s mission. Just one more special kink like all the others that turn up endlessly regarding Israel’s special treatment?

    • Citizen
      March 16, 2010, 4:20 pm

      It appears he did tell McCain that CENTCOM staffers had periodically discussed recommending that the Palestinian terroritories be placed under CENTCOM. Only his staffers know the truth, eh?
      link to

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 16, 2010, 4:25 pm

        And here link to it says Palestinian security forces are trained in Jordan under CENTCOM control.

      • Citizen
        March 16, 2010, 4:32 pm

        Yeah here’s most of it on
        “One of the more interesting bits of news to come out this past weekend was a report on the Foreign Policy web site that Gen. David Petraeus had earlier this year put in a request to the White House that his own Central Command (CENTCOM) be given responsibility for the Palestinian occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza.
        Those areas, along with the entire Levant, fall under European Command. Petraeus was reportedly frustrated by the U.S. inability to make any progress on what is the major flashpoint for Arab anger, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, when his constituency is predominantly Arab.
        Petraeus was before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning to talk about his command’s budget and CENTCOM’s potential enlargement came up. Petraeus was quick to say that he never sent a memo to the White House recommending the move. “Although some staff members and I have at various times discussed asking for the Palestinian territories or something like that to be added… I have never made that a formal recommendation.”
        Although, as he pointed out, U.S. military training of the Palestinian security forces , under the direction of Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, takes place in Jordan, which is part of CENTCOM’s area of operations. Those Palestinian forces often patrol jointly with Israeli troops in the Palestinian territories.
        “We keep a very close eye on what goes on there because of the impact that it has on that part of CENTCOM that is the Arab world.” At a prompting from Sen. John McCain, Petraeus voiced his support for Obama administration peace envoy George Mitchell and his efforts. “We seek to support him anyway that we can when he is in the CENTCOM part of the region.”
The Arab-Israeli conflict does “set the strategic context within which we operate,” Petraeus said. “My thrust has generally been to literally encourage [the peace] process… because of the effect that it has on the moderate governments in our area.”

      • Citizen
        March 16, 2010, 4:44 pm

        It appears that after they are trained within US CENTCOM jurisdiction, when the US-trained Palestinian security forces leave Jordan, they operate under Israel’s Central Command jurisdiction. What a flexible pretzel the US gymnasts make when they bend over backwards so Israel can have its cake and eat it too–at US expense, and Palestinian expense, and all benefits going to independent Israel. Petraeus did everything but send a memo request–wily guy, he knew better, just as he knew how to let McCain’s loaded questions slide. It’s like the circular language employed by Axlerod
        discussed on another recent thread here–only this is an example of the running partner: ignore the elephant in the room comletely, and then just
        say the Palestinian territories thing affects the overall CENTCOM strategy
        and not in a good way.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        March 16, 2010, 5:12 pm

        Should I translate it as a proposal to remove Israeli shoes from areas A and B, or just take control over Palestinian security people away from them? Shirley area C is out of the question.

      • Les
        March 16, 2010, 6:42 pm

        We train and arm Abbas’s police and security, so long as he agrees that they can only shoot fellow Palestinians. It’s like providing arms to Qusiling in Norway to maintain law and order among the Norweigans.

    • Queue
      March 17, 2010, 2:04 pm

      Note the use of the term “formal recommendation“. This impleies that pehaps he has even made an informal recommendation to bring even Israel under CENTCOM.

  4. Chaos4700
    March 16, 2010, 3:48 pm

    Isn’t it reassuring that Rahm Emmanuel goes out of his way to talk to Eric Cantor while people like Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd are hung out to dry?

    Looks like Jews-only settlements really can be found outside of Israel and the West Bank.

    • yonira
      March 16, 2010, 4:02 pm

      Chaos, you should really read the link which as provided in the story. Don’t expect Phil to tell the whole story in host post. Cantor first went to Rahm telling him the the administration needs to chill, what Phil posted above was Rahm’s response to this.

      I didn’t see where Rahm called every Jew in the House and Senate, only the ones who first asked him about the situation. Maybe Obama and Kucinich discussed I/P on Air Force one yesterday?

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 4:05 pm

        I didn’t see where Rahm called every Jew in the House and Senate, only the ones who first asked him about the situation.

        With all those strawmen you carry around, you’re a walking fire hazard, yonira.

  5. dalybean
    March 16, 2010, 3:50 pm

    Oh Phil. Sigh. Don’t be so quick to fall into despair. Cardin and Berman just came out on Obama’s side as per the JTA. Canada just upgraded its statement on the Jerusalem housing to one of “condemnation.” Petraeus’ testimony provides the I/P/national security linkage. The letter that AIPAC was trying to circulate for signature failed. The reports are circulating that Netanyahu is not to be trusted because there was a private agreement on the Jerusalem housing that Netanyahu violated.

    • dalybean
      March 16, 2010, 3:59 pm

      What happened to the days where AIPAC would brag that they would have the signature of 70 Senators on a letter within 24 hours?

    • MRW
      March 16, 2010, 4:01 pm

      This is highly significant: “Canada just upgraded its statement on the Jerusalem housing to one of ‘condemnation.’” Aint no way on god’s green earth that Harper would issue this unless he knew what happened in Israel.

      Petraeus’ statement before the Senate does not say one flipping thing about gays, HuffPo’s heehaw notwithstanding. Check it out yourself and use FIND to search for words gay and Israel. it’s under the “(Sometimes the news takes 9 years) ” thread.

      you got more on this dalybean, like do you have it on your screen now? “The letter that AIPAC was trying to circulate for signature failed.” If I go puttering I will be three hours behind getting something finished. ;-) Dont worry about searching though.

    • potsherd
      March 16, 2010, 4:03 pm

      linkies, dalybean?

      • dalybean
        March 16, 2010, 4:12 pm

        I’m still looking. In the meantime, if I am reading this right, please sate yourself on this Ron Kampeas story that AIPAC and other Lobby groups are decelerating and, most significantly, backing the indirect talks. link to

        The significance of the indirect talks, which AIPAC lobbied against in favor of direct talks, is that, in the indirect talks, the Palestenians are backed up by the Arab League. This is anathema to Israel. That’s why NYT is saying the indirect talks were called into question and Barak just put out a call for direct talks.

      • potsherd
        March 16, 2010, 4:15 pm

        This looks like what you referred to: link to

        Berman, Cardin point finger at Israel

        By Ami Eden · March 16, 2010

        A handful of Democrats have spoken out against the Obama administration (The Hill has a rundown).

        Almost all of them are from New York (Reps. Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Steve Israel, Anthony Weiner and, facing a tough reelection, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand), and generally stake out a more hawkish line on Middle East issues than many of their Democratic colleagues. On the latter point, the same can be said of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nevada).

        So are they speaking for themselves, reflecting their state’s particular political realities and constituencies, or do their criticisms suggest that the White House is losing the support of the wider Democratic caucus?

        Well… in an exclusive interview with JTA’s Ron Kampeas, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Israel deserved the spanking it’s been receiving from the Obama adminsitration:

        The administration had, I think, real justification for being upset because a process was supposed to be in place that would keep it from being blindsided, and that process failed and once again the U.S. was blindsided and the Israelis have to get this right. They’ve got to put in place a system that keeps this from happening.”

        It’s worth noting that, as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Berman has taken the lead in the push for new, tougher Iran sanctions and is a staunch supporter of Israel, with strong ties to AIPAC.

        Another Jewish Democrat — Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee — also has come out with criticism of Israel. Here’s his statement:

        “There is no excuse for Israel’s announcement of plans to expand housing units in East Jerusalem when Vice President Biden was on the ground meeting with the highest levels of the Israeli government. While the Vice President was on a mission to restart the peace process, such an announcement was a mistake.

        “This incident does not diminish the fact that Israel is a critical ally of the United States and our bond runs deep, based on mutually important values and respect. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s quick expression of regret is a positive step forward and recognition of our continuing strong relationship. It is important for friends to have an open dialogue.”

        This is a good as a seat at the circus.

      • potsherd
        March 16, 2010, 4:16 pm

        stupid software blockquote

      • dalybean
        March 16, 2010, 4:18 pm

        Still looking. I may have misinterpreted where the Frum Forum does question whether a letter will be circulated. link to

      • dalybean
        March 16, 2010, 4:22 pm

        The AIPAC letter has 2 signatures–Kirk and Carney. Not a failure, then?

        link to

      • dalybean
        March 16, 2010, 4:36 pm

        Aluf Benn is the source for the private deal on the Jerusalem settlements which Netanyahu broke. link to

      • MRW
        March 16, 2010, 4:45 pm

        (R-IL) Kirk did not vote for the Health Care Bill. (D-PA) Carney did.

      • potsherd
        March 16, 2010, 6:12 pm

        No surprise in Republicans signing – the question is which Dems will do it.

  6. Paul Woodward
    March 16, 2010, 3:54 pm

    Another thing. Unless the vice president has been moved to an undisclosed location, I’m not sure why it takes Rahm Emanuel to verify what he did or did not say. Biden, as far as I’m aware, is still capable of speaking for himself. If he remains silent, that silence speaks volumes.

  7. Tuyzentfloot
    March 16, 2010, 3:55 pm

    Phil didn’t write this. I didn’t comment. You didn’t read this. Humor potential detection light is blinking.

  8. Taxi
    March 16, 2010, 4:31 pm

    Yet the seed of Israel=Apartheid=OurTaxDollar has been planted in the minds of millions of voters.

  9. Richard Witty
    March 16, 2010, 4:44 pm

    One of the reasons for US returning to prior positions re: Israel is AGAIN Hamas.

    Today’s “Day of Rage”, conveyed to the US officials, that Israel is under assault and that defensive concerns will continue to outweigh others, or least be considerable in the mix.

    • Chaos4700
      March 16, 2010, 4:45 pm

      Because apparently, Israelis in the West Bank can do that sort of violence on Palestinians all day long and that’s not newsworthy.

      Witty: Always always ALWAYS blames the Palestinians. For EVERYTHING.

      • Richard Witty
        March 16, 2010, 4:57 pm

        Actually, I blame Hamas for the consequences of their actions.

        Sadly, you apologize for everything Hamas does.

        When someone says to you “rampage”!!! do you take that as permission to attack your neighbors?

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 5:00 pm

        Witty, you’ve even blamed Netanyahu’s appointment to Prime Minister on Hamas in the past.

        Still no word from you on Jews waging their pogroms in Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank, huh? Big surprise.

      • Sunyata
        March 16, 2010, 5:16 pm

        Witty, here’s the difference between The Palestinians and Israel.

        So far, the Palestinians haven’t called me an anti-semite for suggesting that Moses is as bad as Hitler for his own foray in to ethnic cleansing, or for thinking that Israel should not be a jewish state. Nor have they tried to shout me down in regards to tribalism vs. universalism and assimilation.

        Jews? Have.

        If it weren’t for that, I’d probably be more willing to see things the Israeli way.

        And don’t suggest that in some certain way the Palestinians have, because it doesn’t really have the same slanderous effect as being called an anti-semite has.

        Don’t you get it now? If Israel wants a good way of getting away with its atrocities, what it needs to do is stop calling people anti-semites. It makes sense, really…how can you expect to win friends and influence people if you accuse them of being on par with one of the most racist and murderous men of the 20th century?

      • Richard Witty
        March 16, 2010, 5:18 pm

        That was accurate. Likely not intentional, most likely just overwhelmingly negligent.

        That is that in an environment in which Israeli defense was becoming less of a campaign issue because of the hudna, Hamas opted to again make it an issue.


      • Richard Witty
        March 16, 2010, 5:23 pm

        Go to Denmark and post a cartoon on Muhammed and see the response.

        You calling Moses and ethnic cleanser is offensive to me as well.

        I too am motivated by what people have called me. In my case, its been the “pro-democratic” left that has called me liar, nazi, racist, fascist over a decade.

        I still retain my humanity in spite of the inhumanity that has been thrown at me.

        I would hope that you would resist willingly dropping compassion on a whole people, because a few have called you names.

        I see a Palestinian and I see a neighbor first, not an enemy.

        Time for you to step up.

      • yonira
        March 16, 2010, 5:31 pm

        Over a decade Witty? I’ve heard you called those words on here repeatedly over the past 3 months.

      • Richard Witty
        March 16, 2010, 5:40 pm

        Three years here. Six years on another site.

        The odd thing is that most of the name-calling isn’t an effort to heal racism, but an effort to enforce conformity, and/or to express some verbal violence and nullification.

      • Citizen
        March 16, 2010, 5:43 pm

        Yeah it, sucks–like being called an anti-semite because you dared to suggest
        US and Israel’s interests might not be identical. Not even a former US president is protected from such slurs. Somehow, I don’t think Witty’s source of livelihood is even slightly threatened.

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 5:58 pm

        Yeah really.

        Cry us a river, Witty, that you have to put up with even a fraction of what any of us have.

        Pulling out the whole “Eurabia” epithet and coupling that with a straw man (“You called Moses an ethnic cleanser!”) is classic Wittypocrisy. Small wonder you’ve got foul-mouth yonira toadying up with you.

      • VR
        March 16, 2010, 6:01 pm

        I see you’re worried about “self-determination” also eh RW?

      • Donald
        March 16, 2010, 6:01 pm

        In the words of Oscar Wilde, one would need a heart of stone to keep from laughing.

        Much of the namecalling, of course, is an effort to enforce conformity just as Richard says, leaving out that much of the time it’s an effort to enforce conformity on generally accepted principles of human rights and basic decency. There can also be efforts to enforce conformity on other issues, but poor Richard is almost incapable of telling the difference. He enforces his own conformity on any criticism aimed his way–if it touches his Zionist beliefs, it’s FASCIST criticism.

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 6:04 pm

        Too right, Donald. How often have we watched Witty attack Mr. Weiss for not being “Jewish” enough?

      • Sunyata
        March 16, 2010, 6:29 pm

        To be fair Chaos, I *am* calling Moses an ethnic cleanser.

        Numbers 31. He orders the Israelites to slay all the midianite adult males, adult females, and male children, but to “spare” the female children.

        Sorry, but regardless of what the intent was there, regardless of what rules were laid down, we all know what happens to women and children during war. And that is not me saying that the jews specifically are prone to this sort of thing, this is me saying what humans in general tend to do during war.

        How anyone can even deny that that was ethnic cleansing is beyond me.

        And Witty. Ideally you are correct, and you know what? One of my most favorite people is an orthodox jew. I haven’t seen them lately, but they aren’t xenophobic and though they are zionist they don’t shove it down my throat.

        My point Witty was that Israel can win more support with honey instead of vinegar.

      • Chaos4700
        March 16, 2010, 6:38 pm

        Yeah, I went back and reread it.

        But you’re not wrong. So Witty’s offended merely that you pointing out what’s in the Scriptures, huh?

        Witty’s still pulling out every Islamaphobic caricature in the book. His “Jewish” people waging pogroms in the West Bank? Ignored, in favor of dredging up the Mohammed cartoon. Which of course attracted yonira, like a fly to… well. I’ll leave the poetic metaphor to the imagination.

      • Citizen
        March 16, 2010, 6:58 pm

        Yeah, Witty, those Palestininans need to be shown the consequences of being born Palestinians. Atta boy! Extra phosporus anyone? Want fries along with that fish sandwich?

      • Shingo
        March 17, 2010, 5:01 am

        “Actually, I blame Hamas for the consequences of their actions.”

        No you don’t. You blame Hamas and only Hamas, becasue for Israel, there are no consequences for their actions.

        Sadly, you apologize for everything Israel does.

      • Shingo
        March 17, 2010, 5:04 am

        “That is that in an environment in which Israeli defense was becoming less of a campaign issue because of the hudna, Hamas opted to again make it an issue.”

        How so Witty? Did they trick Israel into vilating the ceasfire, killing 6 Palestinians and starting a war?

        Did they trick Livni and the Israeli government into believing that a long ceasefire was contrary to Israel’s strategic interests?

        The addicts are Israel. Addicted to war, land, and ethnic purity.

      • Shingo
        March 17, 2010, 5:07 am

        “You calling Moses and ethnic cleanser is offensive to me as well.”

        Yes, Moses was offensive. In fact, he was a mass murderer and a mass rapist.

        “In my case, its been the “pro-democratic” left that has called me liar, nazi, racist, fascist over a decade. ”

        If the shoe fits. If you don’t like being called a liar, nazi, racist, fascist, stop behing like one.

        “I see a Palestinian and I see a neighbor first, not an enemy. ”

        Sure Witty. A neighbor that you can bomb, steal from, and beat up, and then insist they deserved it.

  10. Colin Murray
    March 16, 2010, 4:53 pm

    The Obama administration’s back-down is certainly disappointing, but I still chalk this one up as a big win both for America and the rest of the world.

    Whatever may actually have happened behind closed doors between the various actors, and at least some of them are lying, I suggest that four things are pretty likely.

    (1) The Netanyahoo government has riled the Obama administration even further, hopefully increasing the chance that Pres. Obama will put American interests before those of Israel when deciding whether or not to start a war with Iran.

    (2) The issue of Israeli government policy as a threat to American lives and interests has gotten far more press play than it ever has.

    (3) The bounds of what is permissible in public discussion of the Israel Lobby have been expanded.

    (4) AIPAC has had to expend more political capital in a very public manner. Every time a crisis can’t be managed completely behind closed doors knowledge of their existence and activities becomes a little more widespread.

  11. Citizen
    March 16, 2010, 5:27 pm

    FoxNews minutes ago:
    Hillary is saying the delay in peace proceess won’t be long. No crisis in US-Israel relations.
    Cantor is saying how do you play fair with our best ally by bullying it?

    Palestiinians say they might not end their refusal to partipate in the peace process if Israel don’t stop its settlement expansion.

    That’s what the US viewer got from FoxNews just now.

    Question re Hillary’s long phone talk with N:
    All Bibi has to do to make Hillary happy is announce that the building project in Ramat Shlomo is “suspended pending the outcome of the forthcoming proximity talks”? If the talks result in an agreement, the future of the building project will be determined by the agreement. If there is no agreement, the suspension will be lifted. Israel has nothing to lose. The construction isn`t scheduled to start for another 2 years anyway.

    That’s the gist of what a commenter on Haaretz just said.

  12. MHughes976
    March 16, 2010, 5:34 pm

    I would think that the announcement of a suspension would be a significant symbolic climbdown in a situation where symbolism is very important.

  13. Evildoer
    March 16, 2010, 5:39 pm

    I’m shocked. Really, but will you ever learn?

    • VR
      March 16, 2010, 6:04 pm

      Learning cannot be had by mental masturbation Evildoer, it is just meant for pleasuring yourself…lol

  14. radii
    March 16, 2010, 7:44 pm

    If the Obama administration has been looking for an opportunity to knock Bibi and/or re-set relations with israel, and as some have suggested the day-after-day blasts from Biden, Clinton, Axelrod, Mullen/Patraeus, etc. were orchestrated, then the next logical step is for the Obama admin to demand a complete and permanent halt to all settlement activity by israel. I’ve heard nothing near that even dangled as an option.

    It is vitally important, as Taxi pointed out, that Israel=Apartheid=OurTaxDollar has been put out into the infocloud of political speech and public discourse – it is simple stuff even Americans can grasp

  15. syvanen
    March 16, 2010, 8:06 pm

    Petreaus has backed down from nothing he said. Mark Perry has corrected his assertion in an update to his FP article:

    [UPDATE 2–from Mark Perry: A senior military officer told Foreign Policy by email that one minor detail in my report, “The Petraeus Briefing” was incorrect: a request from General Petraeus for the Palestinian occupied territories (but, as I made clear, not Israel itself), be brought within CENTCOM’s region of operation was sent to JCS Chairman Mullen – and not directly to the White House. My information was based on conversations with CENTCOM officials, who believed they were giving me correct information. It is significant that the correction was made, not because it is an important detail, but because it is was inconsequential to the overall narrative. In effect, the U.S. military has clearly said there was nothing in this report that could be denied.]

  16. hughsansom
    March 16, 2010, 11:41 pm

    Is anybody surprised by this? I should change my name to Cassandra. From minute one, I said this was exactly what would happen. Obama has all the spine of an earthworm. All we need is for David Axelrod to deny that he said precisely what he said on network TV.

    It’s the Age of Orwellius.

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