Selling Washington's Economic Plan

At a press briefing today alongside PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israel’s announcement that it would build new housing units in East Jerusalem “counterproductive” and said that Washington is “deeply disappointed” with the construction. She was following President Obama’s comment yesterday that “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.” A statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country “sees no link between the peace process and its development plans in Jerusalem,” but ending settlement construction has been a central concern of the Palestinians. Clinton is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu in New York tomorrow. She vowed to “persevere” in the fight to save the peace process despite the disappointment: “we're absolutely committed to doing everything we can to assist the parties.”

President Obama and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner have launched a PR campaign of sorts to try to get the G-20 nations onboard with Washington’s plans for a framework to put limits on trade imbalances. The president sent a letter to the group’s leaders that called for the countries to work together and to stay calm. Geithner meanwhile published an article in the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal along with Singapore’s finance minister and Australia’s treasure that struck similar chords.

Meanwhile, a group of Senators is in Afghanistan lauding the headway coalition troops have made there. According to Senator John McCain, “we have made significant progress since the surge started and that progress has freed people from the oppression that they were living under.” But, he said, setting a withdrawal date of July 2011 was a bad idea because it “encourages our enemies and discourages our friends.” Senators Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman and Kirsten Gillibrand were also on the trip.