Obama AIPAC - AP - 22.5.11
U.S. President Barack Obama arriving at the AIPAC Conference dais for his keynote address on May 22, 2011. Photo by AP
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AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr said Monday that U.S. President Barack Obama should not take an even-handed approach to the Middle East conflict, as it puts Israel at a disadvantage.

“Part of being an honest broker is being honest," Kohr said in an address to AIPAC, a day after Obama spoke to the pro-Israel lobby and clarified his remarks regarding his vision for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, adding "that honesty "should not be confused with even-handedness".

"In a world which is demonstrably on the side of the Palestinians and Arabs - where Israel stands virtually alone - the United States has a special role to play," said the AIPAC director. "When the United States is even-handed, Israel is automatically at a disadvantage, tilting the diplomatic playing field overwhelmingly toward the Palestinians and Arabs."

The AIPAC leader also said that no settlement imposed on the Palestinians or on Israel could succeed. “When neither party owns the plan or has responsibility to accept it, that plan is doomed to fail," he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly rejected Obama's declared support Thursday for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, in what appeared to open a deep divide between the United States and Israel.

On Monday, Kohr urged Jerusalem and Washington to work out their differences privately, warning that any public display of a diplomatic crisis would serve as fodder for Israel's enemies.

“If Israel's foes come to believe that there is diplomatic daylight between the United States and Israel, they will have every incentive to try to exploit those differences and shun peace with the Jewish state," warned the AIPAC director.

He also said that Netanyahu was "ready and willing" to negotiate for peace with the Palestinians, but that it was up to the other side to make a positive step forward.

“There is still time for a Palestinian leader to be bold and creative: to turn back from the current dead end; to reject Hamas; to reject the international path; to reject the road to unilateral recognition at the United Nations and instead to embrace the chance to sit down with Israel to negotiate a real peace," said Kohr.

"To say to those who profess to stand for peace: There can be no end to strife for the Palestinian people unless their leaders pursue a partnership in peace with Israel," he added.