Israel Can Check Out Anytime, but It Can Never Leave the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

NEW YORK - Just as with all the other low expectations surrounding the New York summit between Israel, the Palestinians and the United States at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, nothing special was in the air yesterday in advance of the summit. Netanyahu, Abbas and Obama may gather together today in the presidential suite, but the hotel has seen many much more important events over the years.

Since the Waldorf officially opened in 1893, the hotel has hosted a slew of world leaders, presidents and celebrities. Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, adopted the hotel as his home after leaving the White House. General Douglas MacArthur lived there on regular basis too. Marilyn Monroe spent a few years of her life at the Waldorf-Astoria, and a number of well-known underworld figures such as Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano took a fancy to the place. In 1912 the committee investigating the sinking of the Titanic met in the hotel.

Israeli history is also linked to the Waldorf-Astoria. In 1954 the former IDF chief of staff and archaeologist Yigael Yadin held a secret meeting with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Mar Samuel in the hotel's basement to negotiate the purchase of four of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The State of Israel paid $250,000 for the four scrolls.

In 1960 Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion met in one of the hotel's suites with West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. The pair discussed relations between the two countries and the reparations agreement. Senior Israeli officials regularly use the Waldorf-Astoria while in New York, and maybe something historic will yet happen at today's summit.