Sometimes I Don't Get the Israelis
So Israel has publicly denounced the Swiss for their weekend meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. From the AP:
Israel on Monday summoned the head of Switzerland's diplomatic mission to Israel, Monika Schmutz-Kirgoz, for an "urgent discussion" to convey Israel's deep displeasure with the meeting Sunday between Ahmadinejad and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.
"The meeting between the president of a democratic country with an infamous Holocaust-denier such as the president of Iran, who calls for Israel's destruction, does not mesh with the values that Switzerland represents and that are supposed to be represented at the UN conference on racism," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Israel objected to the meeting, despite being plainly obvious to most everyone else in the world that this meeting was a back channel effort by the United States to pressure Tehran over the questionable prosecution of American journalist Roxana Saberi.
The Swiss have played this intermediary role, essentially, since the revolution. This is widely understood. They have traditionally served as our go-between on Iranian matters, and in this instance, their efforts appear to be working.
So why do this now? Ahmadinejad is clearly a detestable figure, but why protest him now, when all it seems to demonstrate is an utter disinterest in American interests?
It's very likely that Saberi will be used as "good faith" leverage, and that Ahmadinejad is playing the good cop to secure her freedom and win some points. That said, her freedom is the objective, and achieving this at such little cost would be a good thing.