November 23rd, 2012
06:02 PM ET

Behind the scenes of Clinton’s “shuttle diplomacy”

By Jill Dougherty

For both President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the bid to broker a cease-fire in Gaza was high-profile, high-risk diplomacy.

“It’s a significant decision to send the secretary of state into an uncertain situation that puts American credibility and influence on the line,” a senior State Department official tells CNN. “I have the beginnings of ulcers to show that this was not a done deal when we left” for the Middle East.

Planning for Clinton’s possible “shuttle diplomacy” trip to the Middle East – cutting short a trip with Obama to Southeast Asia – began Sunday, the official says. When Clinton and her staff arrived in Thailand, they began conversations with the president’s senior staff. Did the potential benefits of going outweigh the risks?

Over lunch in Myanmar, Obama and Clinton discussed gaps between Egyptian and Israeli proposals for a cease-fire and how the U.S. might most effectively play a supporting role.

On Monday, the president called key players, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. By Tuesday, the decision had been made: Clinton would fly to the region. The staff began putting the wheels in motion for a mid-afternoon departure from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She would arrive in Israel at 10 p.m. local time and go directly to a meeting with Netanyahu.

What is the future of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship?
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office May 18, 2009.
November 23rd, 2012
01:46 PM ET

What is the future of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship?

By Jamie Crawford

Amid the flurry of diplomatic congratulations over the maneuvering that led to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas this week, the dual readouts of the roles played by President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contained some interesting language.

A written statement detailing the telephone conversation between the two after an agreement was reached included the usual language of maintaining the U.S. commitment to Israeli security. But the White House also said that Obama "commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal – which the president recommended the prime minister to do."

Netanyahu's office released a statement that said he had "acceded" to Obama's recommendation to sign the deal and thanked the president for his support of Israel during the operation.

After a few years worth of headlines bemoaning the frosty relationship between the two, could a detente of sorts be in the offing? If so, would it give Obama additional leverage with Netanyahu as they move forward on even more complex problems like the Iranian nuclear crisis and the elusive search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

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Filed under: Iran • Israel • Israel-Gaza 2012 • Obama