Thursday, May 28, 2009

Israel Tells Obama to Stuff it

In past posts here I have shown that Dictator Obama will either try to con, or bully Israel into appeasing his Islamic friends. Thankfully though Israel is standing up to Obama and his overblown ego.

Israel defies U.S. demand to freeze West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM – Israel rejected on Thursday a U.S. demand to freeze all construction in West Bank Jewish settlements to encourage peace talks, deepening a dispute with the Obama administration that has the hard-line Israeli government increasingly on edge.

The tensions flared on the same day
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Washington for a meeting with President Barack Obama. Abbas said the Palestinian demand for a settlement construction freeze would top his agenda.

Using unusually strong language, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that Obama wants a halt to all settlement construction, including "natural growth." Israel uses that term for new housing and other construction that it says will accommodate the growth of families living in existing settlements.

Government spokesman Mark Regev responded Thursday by saying some construction would go on.

"Normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue," he said, noting Israel has already agreed not to build new settlements and to remove some tiny, unauthorized settler outposts. Regev said the fate of the settlements would be determined in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Former President George W. Bush gave Israel unwavering support during his eight-year term. But that appears to be changing under Obama.

The new U.S. administration has been more explicit in its criticism of Israeli settlement policy than its predecessor. Obama also pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their first White House meeting last week to support creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But so far, Netanyahu has balked at that idea, too.

The growing pressure, coupled with Obama's outreach to the Muslim world that will be underscored by a speech in Cairo next week, has many Israelis wondering where exactly they fit into the president's plans. They are particularly concerned by Washington's efforts to start a dialogue with Iran, Israel's arch-foe, after nearly three decades of diplomatic estrangement.

Clinton said Obama told Netanyahu last week at the White House that the U.S. sees stopping settlements as key to a peace deal that would see a Palestinian state created alongside Israel.

"He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions," Clinton said. "We think it is in the best interests (of the peace process) that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly. ... And we intend to press that point."

While Israel could flout the U.S. opposition, Netanyahu is wary of a showdown with his most important ally. He has been careful to avoid direct conflict with the Americans, but members of his government have become openly critical.

Israel views its close relationship with the U.S. as fundamental to its security and foreign policy. If Israel refused to halt settlement construction, the U.S. could reduce economic or military aid, curtail arms sales, or scale back the close strategic cooperation the two countries currently have, including the sharing of information and joint projects, such as anti-missile systems.

During a Cabinet debate on settlement outposts this week, Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared that Israel does not have to "kowtow to every American dictate."

Link to Article

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