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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Netanyahu Up Against a New U.S. Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler

June 5 is a date that resonates powerfully in the troubled modern history of the Middle East. On that fateful day, 42 years ago, the seminal 1967 Arab-Israel war erupted. Six days later, Israel was in control of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Syria's Golan Heights and all of the Palestinian territories.

Not only had the face of the region changed dramatically: henceforth, the U.S.-Israeli relationship would be the strategic linchpin of the region, a relationship that was to remain at the heart of the U.S. Middle East policy.

No longer.

June 4, 2009, could herald another seminal shift - the day when that relationship is no longer the pivot of all regional political developments. That stands out as potentially the most significant outcome of this week's initial encounter between the new U.S. President and the new Israeli Prime Minister.

June 4 is certainly meant by President Barack Obama to stand out as a beacon that will reflect this dramatic shift in U.S. Middle East policy. From Cairo, in a fortnight's time, Obama will lay down his Administration's vision for the region. His visit to Egypt is geared to establishing a fundamental plank of that policy - the improvement of U.S. relations with both the Arab and Muslim worlds, as well as the relationship he envisages between both those worlds and Israel.


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