Netanyahu arrives in Washington for 'tense' talks

Sunday, May 17, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday for a visit that will include what many expect to be a tense meeting between the Israeli leader and US President Barack Obama.

In fact, "tense" was how Ynet described the atmosphere aboard Netanyahu's trans-Atlantic flight, during which the prime minister's entourage wondered just how much pressure Obama would put on them publicly commit to the birth of a Palestinian Arab state, even if the Palestinians fail to meet their own peace commitments.

Regardless of how much pressure they come under, however, one Israeli official told the news portal that Netanyahu intends to stand his ground, particularly on its demands that the Palestinians give up terrorism, agree to remain largely demilitarized and recognize Israel as "the Jewish state."

Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a close confidante of Netanyahu, indicated the prime minister in fact will go further than standing his ground and will promote fresh approaches to peace that don't involve handing land over to the Palestinians under their current leadership and until they have proved themselves true partners for peace.

Netanyahu also reportedly planned to turn the tables a bit on the Obama administration by insisting that the primary threat to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a nuclear-armed Iran, and so something must be done immediately about the Islamic Republic's defiant nuclear program before meaningful progress can be made toward Israeli-Arab peace.

Earlier this month, Obama's top aides suggested that the US would only really go after Iran after Netanyahu agreed to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state in the very near future.

Netanyahu was treated to a healthy dose of pressure before even departing for the US from both sides of hits unity coalition.

Members of Netanyahu's own Likud Party and other right-wing factions sent a letter to the prime minister at the weekend threatening to rebel if he breaks under US pressure as he did during his last stint leading the nation a decade ago.

But members of the left-wing Labor Party also sent Netanyahu a letter, warning him against "deluding" himself and the rest of the nation into believing he can resist the birth of "Palestine."

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials accused Netanyahu of planning to deceive the US president and change the terms of the peace process for no good reason. They insisted that the only thing that matters is a firm timetable leading Israel's surrender of Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem.

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