Report: Netanyahu Warns Visiting US Delegation Against Lame-Duck Moves by Obama on Israel-Palestinian Track
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed a message of warning to US President Barack Obama not to make any moves on the Israeli-Palestinian front during his lame-duck period between November and January, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Monday.
According to the report, Netanyahu expressed his concerns on Sunday, during a meeting at his summer house in Caesarea with a delegation of American hard-hitters from both sides of the political aisle, who are in the region on a fact-finding mission. Among members of the delegation visiting the Middle East (with stops in the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) are Democrats Dennis Ross and Philip Gordon, and Republicans James Jeffrey, Meghan O’Sullivan, Zalmay Khalilzad and Robert Danin. As one senior official told Walla, some of these are likely to hold key positions in the next American administration, whichever candidate wins.
Meanwhile, as Walla reported, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, efforts are under way to coordinate a meeting between Netanyahu and Obama during the former’s trip to the US in mid-September to attend the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. The White House, too, according to Walla, is interested in such a meeting, particularly as negotiations on America’s military aid package to Israel reach completion.
One American participant in the meeting in Caesarea said that though Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the aid package, he gave the impression that he was afraid Obama was planning to take advantage of his lame-duck period to initiate a UN Security Council resolution relating to Israel and the Palestinians — or to refrain from exercising the United States’ traditional veto against resolutions unfavorable to the Jewish state. Freedom from the shackles of worrying about reelection, coupled with a US aid package which Obama can taut as the most generous in American administration history, will enable the outgoing president to do what he wants — is Netanyahu’s thinking, according to the American delegate.
This jibes with the assessments made by former US State Department Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller in an interview with The Algemeiner on Friday.
“I’m sure Netanyahu does not trust what the Obama administration might be considering on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” Miller said. “There have been rumors flying around, that after the November elections, the administration will consider trying to work out a set of parameters on final status issues, either with a UN Security Council resolution or some other arrangement — basically to create a new framework for what would constitute the international community’s preferred outcome for a two-state solution, including what to do about borders, Jerusalem, refugees. And that, I think, is Netanyahu’s fear.”
Speculation about a possible US push for progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front comes amid a flurry of diplomatic attempts to broker new peace talks between the two sides. The French initiative, which was recently approved by the European Parliament is one. Russia has also proposed a summit. In addition, as The Algemeiner reported on Sunday, a Jordanian newspaper claimed that Israel has agreed to a US-initiated three-way peace summit, while the Palestinian Authority is demanding preconditions.