US needs to honor its commitments, says Israeli minister

Monday, July 06, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Turning the table on the Obama Administration, Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin on Monday said that Washington needs to honor its commitments in regards to the Middle East peace process.

Begin said that the previous administration's guarantees, even its verbal guarantees, regarding the continued natural growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria cannot just be brushed aside.

US President Barack Obama's staff insists that because those guarantees were never part of a signed agreement, he is not bound by them. At the same time, Obama is insisting that Israel comply with a very excessive interpretation of its own commitments, going so far as to demand a halt to the building of Jewish homes on the eastern side of Jerusalem.

Begin's remarks were made in an interview with Voice of Israel radio just hours before Defense Minister Ehud Barak was scheduled to meet with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell in London.

The fact that Barak and not Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is holding talks with Mitchell was the focus of the Israeli media on Monday. Lieberman later explained that as a Jewish settler himself, he views it as a conflict of interests to negotiate a total freeze of the sector of society he calls home.

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