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Thursday, April 10, 2008
Bush expected to avoid visit to Western Wall as controversial site (though Pope did)

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

OK.

Repeat after me.

"Thanks to Israel's uprooting of the Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip
and northern Samaria Israel enjoys unprecedented support and understanding
from the Bush administration. The relationship between Prime Minister
Olmert and President Bush is second to none - so much so that it would be
dangerous for the Jewish State to replace Olmert at this critical time.
Thanks to this unprecedented support, Israel is in a position today to
rapidly complete final status negotiations with the Palestinians under
favorable terms that it won't get in the future."

Oops.

Things are so screwed up that while the Pope can visit the Western Wall in
what was clearly the "Israeli" portion of his visit, President Bush can't
make the same photo op as part of his historic trip marking Israel's 60th
anniversary.

And now an example of the incredible lack of thinking on the part of whoever
is working on this trip: instead of visiting places associated with
Israel's rebirth or ancient life - the idea is a photo op at a place
remembered in history for the group of Jews who committed suicide rather
than fall captive to the Romans.

Then again. How appropriate. PM Olmert, who critics warn is following a
suicidal path with the Palestinians, will visit Masada with Bush.]

Bush likely to make symbolic visit to Masada, avoiding contentious sites
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 05:37 10/04/2008
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/973669.html

U.S. President George W. Bush is likely to visit Masada during his trip to
Israel next month for Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations, U.S. sources
said on Wednesday.

Organizers of Bush's planned two-and-a-half-day stay said they had been
searching for a symbolic location for the president to visit, but wanted to
avoid one that might stir controversy like the Western Wall, Golan Heights
or Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Bush, accompanied by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, would visit the ancient
mountaintop fortress where Jewish rebels made their last stand against Roman
legionnaires.

During his stay, Bush will address the Knesset and give a speech detailing
the history of U.S.-Israeli relations and his vision of its future.

White House staff said they were interested in organizing a meeting between
Bush, his wife Laura and a group of recent immigrants to Israel.

Bush will hold meetings with Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will take part in a
conference organized by Peres that will include presidents and heads of
state from around the world.

U.S. sources added, however, that the itinerary is in its initial stages and
could change.

"A lot depends on security arrangements," one of them said.

Officials from the Prime Minister's Office, President's Residence, Foreign
Ministry and the White House met last week to discuss the visit.

The team from the Prime Minister's Office will be headed by Amnon Ben-Ami,
who led the team organizing Bush's previous visit.

Over the next few weeks, Israeli and U.S. preparations will focus on
meticulous security arrangements that will involve thousands of police
officers.

Olmert not invited to Sharm summit, despite contrary reports

Olmert has not been invited to a regional summit at the Sinai resort town of
Sharm El-Sheikh, contradicting reports he would participate in the event.

Former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin on Monday said at a press conference
promoting the Geneva Initiative that Olmert would attend the Sharm
conference.

However, U.S. sources said on Wednesday that the summit would be attended by
U.S. President George Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah, and is intended as a
U.S.-Arab meeting.

Bush, who does not intend to visit the Palestinian Authority during his
Middle East visit, will meet Abbas in Egypt and host him in Washington a few
days before his departure.

The United States is keen on holding a summit at the Sinai resort of Sharm
el-Sheikh to coincide with Bush's visit to Israel next month for the
country's 60th anniversary celebrations.

Bush would like to use the event as a way station in the diplomatic process,
following November's Annapolis conference, so as to provide another boost to
efforts to reach an agreement by the end of the year over the core issues
for a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

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