Tales from the Trail

Netanyahu on Obama ties: Under the bus? What bus?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to take the bait on Sunday when asked if he agreed with Republican presidential candidates that President Barack Obama is not pro-Israel enough.

He was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s recent comment that the Democratic president “threw Israel under the bus.”

“You are trying to throw me under the bus of American politics and, guess what, I’m not going to be thrown there,” Netanyahu joked.

The Israeli leader has had a strained relationship with Obama and in May criticized his vision of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders as leaving Israel “indefensible.”

Some of the Republicans hoping to challenge Obama in the November 2012 election, including front-runners Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, have pounced on the issue and raced to proclaim their allegiance to the Jewish state.

Mideast peace veterans and handshake diplomacy

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly referred to them as “veterans” of the Middle East peace process.

That description is probably one thing everyone can agree on. The process to bring Israelis and Palestinians to a lasting peace agreement has been going on for decades and every U.S. president hopes he’s the one who will finally achieve what those before him tried and failed. PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/

President Barack Obama is the latest to take up the baton. He’s already won the Nobel Peace Prize, but will he be The One to triumph on Middle East Peace?

How to ease traffic tie-ups in Washington: hold a nuclear security summit

There’s nuclear security, and then there’s street security. NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/OBAMA

High-level delegations from nearly 50 countries gathered in Washington to talk, talk, talk, and talk some more about keeping the world safe from nuclear terrorism at the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.

That in turn required Washington to cope with ensuring the safety of the world leaders gathered to mull world security.

Ripple effect: Plenty of local scare talk about street closings, traffic tie-ups and nightmare commutes that kept many people off downtown streets on Monday, the first day of the two-day summit.

When seen from Capitol Hill, Jerusalem looks a bit different

ISRAEL-USA/What’s the U.S. policy toward Israel? It may depend on which branch of government you ask.

On Capitol Hill, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got a warm reception during his Washington visit this week. Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, says Congress is on “a different page” than the Obama administration over Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the overall U.S. relationship with Israel.

Netanyahu got a less obviously effusive welcome from the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met him at a hotel on Monday and his White House meeting with the president on Tuesday took place behind closed doors, without photographers present.

No “no” is final, U.S. mideast peace envoy says

President Barack Obama’s mideast peace envoy George Mitchell is an unlikely optimist.

PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL/

Ten months into an assignment that has confounded generations of U.S. diplomats, Mitchell said on Wednesday he remained upbeat about bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks — thanks in part to his experience resolving another once-intractable crisis, the dispute between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Mitchell, credited with shaping the 1998 Good Friday Accord that ended that long and bloody conflict, said the key was not to lose heart.

The First Draft: More pain ahead

Guess what? The economy is still in terrible shape.MARKETS-STOCKS/

The Dow Jones Industrial average plunged to its lowest level in six years yesterday, and all signs point to another lousy day on Wall Street today.

U.S. stock index futures are falling in early morning trading as worries about the fate of major banks mount. Shares of Citigroup were down 6.4 percent and Bank of America was down 8 percent in trading on the Frankfurt exchange.

President Obama has had a busy week. After signing the stimulus bill, unveiling his mortgage rescue plan and visiting Canada, he’ll talk up the stimulus at 10:30 a.m. today.