US President Barack Obama is awaiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to his newly formulated plan to bring peace to the Middle East within two years by setting up a sovereign Palestinian Arab state on ancient Jewish lands.
According to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Obama presented Netanyahu with the plan when the latter visited Washington last month, and gave him six weeks from the time of Obama’s speech last week in Cairo to provide an official reply.
It is believed Netanyahu will give his reply much sooner than that when he announced his government’s official peace policies in an address next Sunday. Obama is said to be anxiously awaiting that speech.
Speculation in the Israeli media is that Netanyahu will go no further than agreeing to a mostly-sovereign Palestinian state that is completely demilitarized, along the lines of the European nation-state of Andorra.
Aides to Netanyahu told Ha’aretz on Tuesday that the prime minister believes Obama is purposely trying to create an open diplomatic confrontation with Israel in order to win favor in the Arab world.
They noted that Obama is going much further than any past president in strong-arming Israel into accepting solutions that have proved ineffective to ending the conflict without providing any firm guarantees for maintaining Israel’s security. Such behavior on Obama’s part is sure to cause Netanyahu a lot of political trouble at home, and Washington knows that.
Meanwhile, overall Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashal reportedly plans to follow Netanyahu’s speech next week with an announcement of his own on the future direction of the terror group.
Another London-based Arabic daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, reported that Mashal has been looking at a number of options for Hamas going forward following Obama’s speech in Cairo.