US President Barack Obama will visit Israel in June, according to diplomatic sources cited by Ha'aretz, and many Israelis fear he will bring heavy pressure for the immediately creation of a Palestinian Arab state.
Speaking in Istanbul on Tuesday, Obama said that his administration is firmly committed to seeing through the land-for-peace process during his term, and is prepared to press both sides to make the compromises needed to get there.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu issued a statement praising Obama's commitment to peace. But many still expect Obama and Netanyahu to clash, as the latter is insistent that peace is only possible once the Palestinians start honoring their agreements.
Netanyahu ran on a platform of slowing down the peace process until such a time that the Palestinians demonstrate some reciprocity.
An up and coming figure in Netanyahu's Likud Party, Knesset Member Gilad Erdan, issued a more fiery response, telling reporters that "Israel does not take orders from Obama."
America is a very important ally for Israel, but "in voting for Netanyahu the Israeli public has decided not to become the 51st US state," Erdan stated.
Also playing off Obama's speech, the Palestinian Authority has set three conditions on its further participation in the peace process, according to Palestinian sources quoted by Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv.
The PA said that the Netanyahu government must outlaw the building of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, must recognize all past signed agreements (even those the PA has failed to fulfill), and must formally commit to the creation of a fully sovereign Palestinian Arab state.
In his determination to move forward the peace process, Obama is expected to press Israel to meet the Palestinian conditions.