U.S.: Netanyahu policy speech not adequate
PM reportedly told U.S. envoy what he plans to say Sunday; U.S. wants to hear support for Palestinian state.
The proposals to be outlined in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Sunday will not be enough to satisfy the Obama administration, a senior U.S. official was quoted as saying on Friday.
The official said Netanyahu told U.S. envoy George Mitchell this week what he planned to say in the speech and that it was "not adequate" to satisfy Washington, who is pushing for an immediate resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood.
The official was quoted on Friday by participants at a meeting this week of the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators.
Netanyahu's refusal to declare a building freeze in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to endorse the goal of establishing a Palestinian state -- both set out in a 2003 peace "road map" -- has opened a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.
Anxious to preserve the alliance but also beholden to his fractious and right-leaning governing coalition, Netanyahu has spoken of stop-gap proposals such as Palestinian self-government shorn of sovereign powers like the right to set up an army.
The Palestinians, having won limited autonomy under 1993 interim accords, insist on full statehood. Yet theirs is now a divided polity, with Hamas Islamists who reject coexistence with Israel in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007.
U.S. President Barack Obama says containing Iran's nuclear aspirations -- which Israel considers a major threat -- would be helped by progress toward a Palestine deal.
An Israeli official said Netanyahu was still putting final touches to the speech which would "present a vision of moving forward in the peace process with the Palestinians".
"In the framework of that, we want to see the Arab states play an increased role," the official said. "The speech will acknowledge the road map and deal with the issue of statehood."