Obama in Personal Appeal to Netanyahu: Extend Settlement Freeze for Two Months

Netanyahu inclined to reject Obama's offer, which includes string of security incentives, citing lack of political support.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

U.S. President Barack Obama offered to support the presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Jordan Valley even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, if Israel would agree to a two month settlement building freeze, in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to a researcher with ties to an Obama aide.

Netanyahu is inclined to reject the offer and has not replied to the letter as of yet, though the Prime Minister's office has refused to answer questions regarding the issue.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, September 1, 2010.Credit: Reuters

The contents of the American president's letter and the Israeli prime minister's response were revealed by David Makovsky, a researcher with ties to Dennis Ross, Barack Obama's chief advisor on the Middle East.

Makovsky published the story in an article on the website for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In it, he states that President Obama's letter is a result of talks between senior U.S. administration officials and Israeli Defense Minister Barak and chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho.

Obama's letter is reported to include a long list of American favors in exchange for an extension of the settlement building freeze, which ended this week. Most of these favors are critical to Israel's strategic security needs that Netanyahu has been demanding for years.

President Obama's advisors met with Jewish senators and congressman on Wednesday in Washington, informing them of the contents of the letter. Ross told the lawmakers that Netanyahu would not agree to the deal because it did not meet all his demands, and because he did not have the political support to extend the building freeze.

Other commitments that Obama offered Netanyahu in the letter include an agreement not to ask for any more building freeze extensions, an agreement to veto any anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution in the next year, and an agreement that the future fate of the settlements be dealt with only as part of a final status agreement with the Palestinians.

Obama's letter included additional commitments, including a series of guarantees to prevent the smuggling of weapons and missiles into a Palestinian state, a lengthy period of interim security arrangements in the Jordan Valley and a comprehensive regional defense pact for protection from Iran to follow the establishment of the Palestinian state.

The American President also vowed to upgrade Israel's security capabilities and increase the three billion dollar security aid package that Israel receives annually. The letter included commitments to advanced weapons and early warning systems, including satellites.



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