Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Netanyahu Fighting Fire with Fire

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to meet with the Likud caucus Wednesday evening to hear their views as he prepares his policy speech that he will deliver on Sunday at Bar-Ilan University. His aides said that the Prime Minister “will listen rather than talk.” Knesset Member Danny Danon said he and other MKs in favor of a strong Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria want to make their stand clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said that the government must not declare acceptance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s demands for establishing a Palestinian Authority state.

Danon told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning that there is a large gap between what President Obama said in his speech in Cairo last week and facts on the ground, such as the control of Gaza by the Hamas terrorist organization.

Prime Minister Netanyahu might face a rebellion by many Likud Knesset Members if he accepts President Obama’s demands. so far he has made it clear that he thinks national security would be jeopardized by a premature acceptance of PA state.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the Labor party and a key government coalition partner, continues to express support for the American position and insists that Prime Minister Netanyahu will change his policy.

However, Prime Minister Netanyahu told U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell Tuesday night, in what he called a friendly meeting, that Israel will not agree to the American demand for a total freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Mitchell tried to tone down the acrimony from conflicting positions by the U.S. and Israel and reassured the Prime Minister that the Obama administration is a close friend of Israel. “We come here to talk not as adversaries and in disagreement, but as friends in discussion," he stated.

The envoy added, "Let me be clear. These are not disagreements among adversaries. The United States and Israel are and will remain close allies and friends.”

Earlier in the day, Mitchell met with President Shimon Peres, who reminded the envoy that Israel is destroying hilltop communities that the U.S. considers illegal, having been built after an agreement with the Sharon government that no new communities would be built in Judea and Samaria after September 2001.

President Peres also backed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence to build for “natural growth," saying that the issue “must continue to be discussed intensively in order to reach agreement."

President Obama has taken virtually all territorial issues off the negotiating table by stating his support for the Saudi Peace Plan, that calls on Israel to surrender all of the land restored to the Jewish state in the Six-Day War in 1967.

The president added, "In my experience, focusing on a single issue ill serves the wider diplomatic process which is supposed to set the agenda for Israel and its neighbors.”

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