Israel Radio Reported Sunday that The United States gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an ultimatum on renewing negotiations with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s personal envoy, Isaac Molho, spent last week in Washington, where the Americans presented their proposal for resuming talks on the basis of Obama’s speech. Specifically, Obama’s plan calls for negotiating over borders and security first, while deferring issues such as Jerusalem and the refugees until later. It also calls for the borders to be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed land swaps.
The Americans told Molho that to block European initiatives such as France’s proposal for an international peace conference in Paris, they must have something concrete to offer, like Netanyahu‘s agreement to negotiate on the basis of Obama’s speech.
Since the talks with Molho last week, the White House has been upping the pressure on Netanyahu. On Friday, Steve Simon, who heads the U.S. National Security Council’s Middle East desk, told American Jewish leaders that Netanyahu needs to reply within a month to the U.S. proposal for restarting talks based on 1967 lines. The White House knew this remark would both be conveyed to Netanyahu and leaked to the American and Israeli press, thus making its displeasure public.
An Israeli source who maintains close ties with both senior U.S. officials and people close to Netanyahu said that Washington‘s frustration began with Netanyahu’s trip to Washington last month, when he publicly fought with Obama and then refused in an address to Congress to endorse the president’s outline for talks. The Americans were now speaking very harshly of Netanyahu, said the source.
Showing that there is still strong support for Israel in America, Netanyahu’s position was met with bi-partisan support in the U.S. Congress last month, when Netanyahu was proceeded by the top Democratic senator who gave a speech critiquing sentiments expressed by Obama.
“A fair beginning to good-faith talks means that Israel cannot be asked to agree to confines that would compromise its own security,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told some 10,000 AIPAC activists on the night before Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session.
“And I believe the parties that should lead those negotiations must be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else.”
He said deal-making must take place at the negotiating table, and that “those negotiations will not happen – and their terms will not be set – through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media. No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building or about anything else.”
Israeli Cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser said that Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear in his speech to the U.S. Congress that “the ball is now in the Palestinians’ court” and if PA President Mahmoud Abbas accepts Israel as a Jewish State, “ninety percent of the conflict will be resolved,” Israel Radio reported.
Hauser stated that all remaining problems could be negotiated, but it seems that there is “not the slightest hint that the Palestinians were willing to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”
Hauser would not give any specifics into Netanyahu’s claims in the speech that some settlements would end up beyond Israel’s border as part of an agreement with the Palestinians.
He said that the prime minister’s point in his speech was that he is willing to give the Palestinians an offer “generous enough” to lead to a peace agreement.
Hauser said that by doing so, Netanyahu showed that the problem was not territory, but rather the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel.
America has stood with Israel since President Harry Truman recognized Israel a mere 11 minutes after she became a state in 1948. But during his tenure as President of the United States, President Obama has initiated a policy which shows contempt for Israel’s concern and safety.
In an era dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’ we have seen increased volatility in the Middle East region. President Obama has chosen to add to fuel to the fires burning in the already unstable region including this call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders without preconditions.
As demonstrated by Netenyau’s reception in the U.S. Congress, this president does not speak for the entire nation on this issue. Like many others, I choose to stand with our friend Israel.