Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Minister Begin: 'US administration not even like Carter's'

(Jpost).US President Barack Obama's views on the issue of West Bank settlements are more challenging for Israel than those of former president Jimmy Carter, Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin said in a meeting with Likud activists from Judea and Samaria at the Knesset Tuesday.

Begin, whose father, former prime minister Menachem Begin, made peace with Egypt during Carter's presidency, made the comments just two weeks after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu censured Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat for calling the Obama administration "horrible."

"This administration is not even like that of Carter - and we realized, in retrospect, who he was," Begin told the activists. "It is unlike the administrations that preceded it, which came to certain understandings regarding construction in Judea and Samaria. This administration says all construction is illegitimate."

Begin made reference to Obama's June 4 speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, in which he declared that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
He said that Carter referred to settlements as "not only an obstacle to peace, but also illegal."

According to Begin, while legality is a technical issue, legitimacy is a matter of political policy, and therefore Obama's views are more problematic for Israel than those of Carter.

"Carter did not maintain that Jews have no legitimate right to live in the towns and villages of Judea and Samaria," Begin said.

In a conversation with The Jerusalem Post, Begin stressed that on many issues, the Obama administration had been "very helpful to Israel and deserves to be recognized for it." But when it came to settlements, "the differences between Israel and the US are great and regrettable."