05/19/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL-USA

Netanyahu appears to have won the first round with Obama

The Israeli premier avoids the American president’s attempts to have him come out in favour of the two state solutions, but obtained a strong declaration against the “Iranian threat”. Now the US wants Israeli promises to halt settlement construction ahead of June 3rd, when Obama visits Cairo.

Rome (AsiaNews) - “Independent experts say Netanyahu appears to have succeeded”. This is how the New York Times comments on yesterday’s encounter between the newly elected Israeli premier and the American president, who entered their first with competing goals: Obama wanted Netanyahu to embrace a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and Netanyahu wanted Obama to take a strong stand on the threat to Israel’s security posed by Iran.

In fact at a first glance the American president and Israeli premier appear to have different issues at heart.  Obama re-launched the idea of the two state solutions, asking Jerusalem to stop settlement construction in Palestinian territories and highlighting the need for aid to flow into Gaza.  Netanyahu avoided being drawn on the issue of two States, tying to Palestine’s de facto recognition of Israeli Statehood.  But he did speak of Iran, delivering, according to some, an ultimatum of sorts: if Tehran’s line has not changed by August Israeli planes will attack its nuclear bases.

Today the Israeli daily Haaretz noted that Obama is set to present his own peace plan that involves the Arab nations in peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.  The U.S. is eager to hear Israel's stance on settlement expansion before the speech Obama's is to deliver in Cairo on June 3rd.In this regards, Peace Now, the Israeli peace organisation, reveals that on the very day Netanyahu left for Washington, private constructors were taken to view the settlement of Maskiot, where without official government approval and against International demands, a new settlement is being planed and developed.

According Yedioth Ahronoth, “Israel and its American ally clearly have a list of urgent issues to address. These include the global economic crisis and the imminent nuclear threat. The establishment of a Palestinian state is not of top priority. In fact, the Palestinian state may be a non-issue”. If the Palestinians wanted to declare statehood, continues the daily paper “the international community led by the UN and perhaps even the US would probably accept them as a state among the family of nations. So why don't the Palestinians declare statehood? Because they want much more than to just establish the 22nd Arab state in the Middle East. They want to jeopardize the only Jewish one. That is something Netanyahu is set to prevent”.  The Jerusalem Post also stresses in first place the “Iranian threat”, underlining Obama’s declaration: “we're not going to have talk forever" with the Iranians. 

For its part, Arab press underlines the US president’s request fro “two states” and the substantial refusal of the Israelis.  “Netanyahu held back from endorsing the main cornerstone of Washington’s Mideast policy”, writes Saudi based Arab News along the same lines of Aljazeera. One of the Palestinian President’s closest collaborators Yasser Abed Rabbo commented that Israel cannot go on for much longer in its use of Iran to condition American politics.

 

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