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Thread: Nejamin Netanyahu: Israel won't listen to US concession demands re: Palestinian issue

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Nejamin Netanyahu: Israel won't listen to US concession demands re: Palestinian issue

    Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Even before Benjamin Netanyahu finds out whether he will be Israel’s next prime minister, he is sending a message to President Barack Obama that he won’t be pushed around.

    Netanyahu, the Likud party candidate who narrowly leads Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of elections tomorrow, last week took reporters to Arab parts of Jerusalem, where he helped establish Jewish footholds when he was previously prime minister. No pressure, he said, would make him cede those neighborhoods “to our enemies.”

    Just as he confounded former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Netanyahu probably will resist if Obama pushes too hard to extract Israeli concessions for peace in the Middle East.

    “He’s extremely effective politically, unbelievably smart and relentlessly suspicious when it comes to the Arabs and the Americans,” says former U.S. negotiator Aaron David Miller, author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.”

    Livni, leading the ruling Kadima party, has campaigned on the need to continue peace talks and compromise with the Palestinians. She would likely have a more harmonious relationship with Obama -- if she were able to cobble together enough support to form a governing coalition consistent with her views. That isn’t certain, given the decline in polls of the Labor Party, Kadima’s coalition partner, which advocates Palestinian statehood.

    “A Livni coalition would be so fragile that it wouldn’t be able to take any decisive steps with the Palestinians and stay in power,” says Roni Bart, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

    Close Race

    Likud, which has led throughout the campaign, was forecast to win 27 seats in the 120-member parliament in a Haaretz/Dialog poll released Feb. 6, compared with 25 for Livni’s Kadima. The poll, which has a margin of error of three seats and was the last before the vote, puts the two in a statistical dead heat.

    A Netanyahu victory would put the future of Middle East peacemaking in the hands of two men with different outlooks on the Muslim world. Over the course of his political career, which included serving as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Netanyahu has warned about the danger of trusting the Palestinians.

    Obama, by contrast, addressed Muslim countries in his inaugural speech Jan. 20, calling for “a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” He gave his first interview as president to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television and pledged to “start now” on Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts.

    Hamas War

    Prospects for a settlement have been set back by the 22-day military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. About 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed before both sides separately declared a truce starting Jan. 18. Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel, though far fewer than before, and Israel has conducted air raids against Hamas facilities and gunmen.

    Two rockets, fired from Gaza, hit Israeli territory yesterday, without causing any injuries, the military said. One struck an agricultural settlement and the second reached the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, it said.

    Instead of overseeing peace talks, Obama envoy George Mitchell will be “babysitting the cease-fire in Gaza,” says Shlomo Avineri, a Hebrew University political scientist.

    Nor are the Palestinians united. The Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank after being purged from Gaza by Hamas in 2007, suspended yearlong peace talks when Israel opened its air offensive against Gaza in December. Mahmoud Abbas remains president even though his four-year term was scheduled to expire last month.

    Shifting the Focus

    Netanyahu, 59, has said he wants to continue talks with the Palestinians, though he would shift the focus to “creating infrastructure for a political settlement,” helping rebuild the West Bank economy and demanding an end to violence. Unlike Ehud Olmert, who resigned as prime minister in September and remains in a caretaker role, Netanyahu says he won’t remove any Jewish settlements from the West Bank, a key Palestinian demand.

    “Achieving peace isn’t going to happen any time soon,” says Zalman Shoval, Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser and a former ambassador to Washington.

    Palestinians say further talks would be worthless if they don’t include negotiating the borders of a future Palestinian state, the removal of Jewish settlements and the status of Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s vision would keep Palestinians as “slaves and workers to serve the Israeli economy,” says As’ad Abu Sharekh, a political analyst at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.

    If Netanyahu beats Livni, his willingness to engage Obama will be dictated by the governing coalition he manages to form with other parties in Israel’s Knesset.

    ‘Wheedle and Cajole’

    “No matter what, Obama’s going to have to wheedle and cajole, but if Netanyahu has a solid right-wing majority, there are going to be major disagreements,” says Bart. “If he brings in Kadima or Labor, he may be able to start some sort of process that the Americans can live with.”

    Yisrael Beitenu, a party started by Avigdor Lieberman and other immigrants from the former Soviet Union that opposes all land-for-peace deals, was third in the Feb. 6 poll, with 18 seats. The Labor Party, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, trailed at 14 seats. The poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters.

    The tight race might even combine Netanyahu and Livni with Barak in a centrist coalition, which would give them some diplomatic maneuvering room. Livni, 50, gave up an earlier chance to become prime minister after the Shas Party, a potential coalition partner, insisted on conditions she said would have tied her hands in negotiations.

    Leaving Likud

    Livni, who would be the first female prime minister since Golda Meir, was a lawyer and former Mossad agent before being elected to parliament in 1999 as a member of Likud. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left the party to start Kadima in 2005, she went with him and became the government’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

    Netanyahu -- popularly known by his nickname, Bibi -- was born in Tel Aviv and attended high school in suburban Philadelphia where his father, a historian, went to teach. After serving in the Israeli army as a commando, Netanyahu returned to the U.S. to study management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    First Term

    In his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu threatened to walk out of the Wye River Plantation summit with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in October 1998 and lectured Clinton on how to deal with the Palestinians, according to the 2004 book “The Missing Peace” by former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross.

    Netanyahu may have mellowed since he was last in office, says Dov Weissglas, Sharon’s key adviser and go-between with the U.S. “Ten years have gone by since he was prime minister, and everybody’s gotten older,” Weissglas says. Still, “Bibi knows well how to handle a U.S. administration.”

    No matter who wins the election, the U.S. needs to be attuned to the political difficulties that Israeli leaders face in a parliamentary system, says Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    “The Obama administration should listen first and not leap,” Cordesman says. “You need to figure out what the new government is and establish what it’s going to stand for.”

    Others argue for a tough approach from the get-go, pointing to the failure to reach a peace agreement under Clinton and President George W. Bush. “At the end of the day, Obama has to be willing to put the screws to Israel,” says Steve Clemons, an analyst at the New America Foundation in Washington.

    Miller, who worked with Ross in managing the Wye talks, says a Livni led-coalition would have much smoother relations with the U.S., particularly with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    “Her husband had the Bibi experience, and I am sure she doesn’t want to repeat it,” he says.

    Bloomberg.com: News
    Oh I'm sorrym, how about the US just stops giving you hundreds of billions each year? How about that.

    Yeah. Real tough guy when someone else is footing the bill for your little crappy dustbowl of a country eh.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    News are reporting here that Kadima (Tzipi) has won (if she does become prime minister would make her the first vegetarian prime minister of Israel). But also Livni may not be able to form gov't due to large right-wing bloc
    I voted for the Green Party (Left wing-enviromentalist-animal rights party). But I don't think they got enough votes to even make it into the Knesset. Personally I wish for peace here. I hope for two-states, but I know that there is just too much extremisim on either side that this is something that will not happen very soon, if at all.
    Last edited by NicoleT1980; February 10th, 2009 at 03:28 PM.

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    Netanyahu has been a moron for years so this doesn't surprise me in any way.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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