Obama - Reuters - 19.5.11
U.S. President Barack Obama. Photo by Reuters
Text size

U.S. President Barack Obama does not think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ever make the concessions necessary to achieve a Middle East peace deal, the New York Times cited Obama aides as saying on Friday.

The comments attributed to associates of the U.S. president comes amid what is turning become into a veritable war of words between Israel and the U.S., following Obama's Mideast strategy speech on Thursday in which the American leader voiced his support for a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

Following Obama's speech, Netanyahu, who is set to meet the U.S. president later today, said Thursday that Israel would object to any withdrawal to "indefensible" borders, adding he expected Washington to allow it to keep major settlement blocs in any peace deal.

"Israel appreciates President's Obama commitment to peace," Netanyahu said, but stressed that he expects Obama to refrain from demanding that Israel withdraw to "indefensible" 1967 borders "which will leave a large population of Israelis in Judea and Samaria and outside Israel's borders."

In what seems to be a response to Netanyahu's comments, Obama aides told the New York Times that the U.S. president did not believe Netanyahu will ever be willing to make the kind of concessions that would lead to a peace deal.

Those comments, which seem to heat an already intense atmosphere between Netanyahu and Obama, comes just hours before a fateful meeting between the two leaders in the White House on Friday.

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor expressed disappointment Thursday in regards to Obama's Mideast policy speech, saying he failed to propose a serious plan for achieving Mideast peace.

"Today, the president outlined his hopes for Mideast peace – a goal that we all share – but failed to articulate a serious plan for achieving this goal," Cantor said in a statement. "This approach undermines our special relationship with Israel and weakens our ally’s ability to defend itself."

"The President’s habit of drawing a moral equivalence between the actions of the Palestinians and the Israelis while assessing blame for the conflict is, in and of itself, harmful to the prospect for peace. In reality, Israel - since its creation - has always proven willing to make the sacrifices necessary for peace, while the Palestinians on numerous occasions have rejected those offers."