- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

NO STORY?

Israeli Ambassador Michael Orensays he hates to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but, he insists, there is no crisis in relations with the United States.

“I’m sorry to disappoint,” he told Israel Radio this week, “but there is no crisis.”

News reports of growing tension between the U.S. and Israel surfaced this week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected what he said was a U.S. demand, delivered to Mr. Oren at the State Department, to stop building Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, which is predominantly Arab.

“We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live or to build anywhere in East Jerusalem,” Mr. Netanyahu said at a Sunday Cabinet meeting, after a wire service reported that Mr. Oren was summoned to the State Department this past weekend.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The United States, like most foreign nations with diplomatic relations with Israel, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

In his radio interview, Mr. Oren referred obliquely to U.S. opposition to further construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.

“There is not crisis in Israel-U.S. relations,” he insisted. “Here we are talking about disagreements over certain subjects, very, very specific.”

One Israeli official, who was not identified, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Mr. Oren’s meeting at the State Department was a “get-acquainted” visit, not a summons, after he presented his diplomatic credentials to President Obama.

Governments “summon” ambassadors to their foreign ministries usually to issue firm messages often critical of positions taken by the ambassadors’ home countries.

GREEN WAR

Major U.S. business groups are warning the Senate that the House-passed energy bill could spark a “green trade war” with important foreign markets and that American exports could face retaliatory tariffs.

Provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act that would subject imported goods to strict carbon-emissions standards are “highly inflexible” and “likely” to conflict with international treaties, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the United States Council for International Business said in a letter to Senate leaders.

“In fact these provisions are already stirring consternation among some of our key trading partners and could trigger a ‘green trade war,’ ” they said in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

They called on the Senate to delete those disputed parts of the House bill.

“We urge the Senate to refrain from including provisions that could negatively impact U.S. relations with key trading partners and disrupt the global trading system,” the business groups said.

“We believe any successful legislation that aims to restrain greenhouse gas emissions must abide by U.S. international trade obligations ….

“Climate change is a global problem that calls for international cooperation, not unilateral ultimatums.”

DIPLOMATIC DEFINITION

When a diplomat says, “Yes,” he means, “maybe.”

When he says, “maybe,” he means, “No.”

But if he says, “No,” he is no diplomat.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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