Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin - Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users show solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Gilles Kepel, Islamic and Arab world specialist

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Argentina braced for another debt default

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Too Late for Sanctions? Pressure Mounts on Russia over Ukraine

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'What would you do?'

Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Israel ramps up Gaza bombardment

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

  • Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s ‘little bird’ strikes again

    Read more

  • France extradites suspected Jewish Museum shooter to Belgium

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs born in French zoo

    Read more

  • France evacuates its nationals from Libya

    Read more

  • US says Russia violated arms treaty by testing cruise missile

    Read more

  • Argentina in last-ditch effort to avert default

    Read more

  • Karzai’s cousin killed in Afghan suicide attack

    Read more

  • Libya oil tanker fire blazes out of control

    Read more

  • In pictures: From Gaza to Mosul, bittersweet end of Ramadan for Muslims

    Read more

  • Moroccan police arrest French al Qaeda recruiter

    Read more

Middle east

Netanyahu rejects Obama’s Palestinian proposal

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-20

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington Friday one day after President Barack Obama endorsed a future Palestinian state based on 1967 lines - a scenario that Netanyahu said could leave Israel “indefensible”.

REUTERS - President Barack Obama met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday as a new U.S. push for Middle East peace opened one of the deepest divides in years in relations between the United States and close ally Israel.
 
Netanyahu arrived at the White House a day after Obama endorsed a long-standing Palestinian demand on the borders of its future state, drawing an angry response from Israel that he was out of the touch with the reality of the long-running conflict.
 
Obama embraced the Palestinian view that the state they seek in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip should largely be drawn along lines that existed before the 1967 war in which Israel captured those territories and East Jerusalem.
 

The right-wing Netanyahu, who has had strained relations with Obama, reacted by saying that this could leave Israel with borders that were “indefensible.”

 
The brewing crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations dimmed even further the prospect for resuming peace talks that collapsed late last year when Palestinians walked away in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.
 
“There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, doesn’t understand what we face,” an official on board the plane taking Netanyahu to Washington told reporters.
 
Asked why he gave such a strong rebuttal to Obama’s remarks in a policy speech on Middle East political upheaval, Netanyahu told reporters on board his plane: “There are things that can’t be swept under the carpet.”
 
Israel also has underlined its position by announcing the approval of plans to build 1,550 housing units in two Jewish settlements on annexed West Bank land around Jerusalem.
 
Obama’s first outright declaration of his stance on the contested issue of borders could help ease doubts in the Arab world about his commitment to acting as an even-handed broker.
 
But in line with Netanyahu’s stance, Obama voiced opposition to a Palestinian plan to seek U.N. recognition of statehood in September in the absence of renewed peace talks.
 
The Democratic president quickly came under fire from Republican critics, who accused him of betraying Israel, the closest U.S. ally in the region. Pushing Netanyahu risks alienating the Jewish state’s base of support among the U.S.  public and in Congress as Obama seeks re-election in 2012.
 
Arab doubts
 
Obama, in his speech on Thursday, laid down his clearest markers yet on the compromises he believes Israel and the Palestinians must make to resolve a conflict that has long been seen as source of Middle East tension.
 
But he did not present a formal U.S. peace plan or any timetable for a deal he had once promised to clinch by September.
 
A round of talks brokered by Washington at Obama’s initiative collapsed last year when Netanyahu refused to extend a moratorium on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to carry on negotiations.
 
Israeli officials appeared especially taken aback by Obama’s blunt language, including criticism of “settlement activity” and continued occupation of Arab lands.
 
“The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence,” Netanyahu said earlier.
 
He said he expected to hear “a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004”—an allusion to a letter by then-president George W. Bush suggesting the Jewish state may keep big settlement blocs under a peace pact.
 
Despite the tensions, Obama carved out three hours for Netanyahu on Friday, including a working lunch.
 
History of tension
 
In March last year, Israel angered Washington when an announcement of plans to build hundreds of dwellings in a settlement was made during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
 
Shortly afterward, Netanyahu was left cooling his heels while Obama went to the White House residence for dinner with his family, widely seen in Israel as a snub.
 
In Thursday’s speech, Obama said: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” of land.
 
While this has long been the private view in Washington, Obama went further than U.S. officials have gone in the recent past, when they described such a solution as a Palestinian aspiration but did not embrace it as their own.
 
Agreed swaps would allow Israel to keep settlements in the West Bank in return for giving the Palestinians other land.
 
Some Israeli commentators said Netanyahu might have hinted at some room for maneuver on the issue in a speech to parliament, the Knesset, on Monday.
 
They said his insistence that Israel must retain “the settlement blocs,” the first time he has used that phrase, could suggest a willingness to evacuate small, isolated settlements.
 
To reassure Israelis, Obama recommitted to Israel’s security and said any future Palestinian state must be “non-militarised,” something Netanyahu has demanded.
 
But he warned Israel: “The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.”
 
Obama also delivered messages that will be hard for the Palestinians to swallow, suggesting that they have a lot of explaining to do about a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza, which the United States regards as a terrorist group.
 
Abbas welcomed Obama’s efforts to renew negotiations, and made plans to convene an “emergency” session of Palestinian and Arab officials to weigh further steps, a senior aide said.
 
But he did not comment on Obama’s firm rejection of a Palestinian drive to seek recognition of their statehood at the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

Date created : 2011-05-20

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy reiterates two-state solution in Netanyahu talks

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France 'may recognise Palestinian state'

    Read more

  • ISRAEL

    Israel rejects talks with unity govt that includes Hamas

    Read more

COMMENT(S)