Sunday, January 10, 2010

PM Netanyahu to US Senaters: The PA are are showing timidity about addressing their own renegades

(Jpost).After months of praising the work of the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a delegation of US senators on Sunday that while active against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the PA security forces "have trouble going against their own renegades."

Netanyahu was referring to the recent murder near Shavei Shomron of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai by members of Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigade.

"They are showing timidity about addressing their own renegades," he told Senators John McCain (R-Arizona), Joe Lieberman (Independent-Connecticut), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and John Thune (R-South Dakota).

Government sources said the threat of the US using economic leverage - such as withholding loan guarantees - to place pressure on Israel was not raised in the one-hour conversation. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, when asked last Wednesday in a television interview what "sticks" the US had in its arsenal against Israel, raised the notion of withholding loan guarantees, although he quickly said this was not the direction the US wanted to go in.

Mccain was equally unequivocal, saying that this type of pressure would not be helpful "and I don't agree with it."

McCain added that he was sure that the administration would make it clear in the future that this was not its policy.

Netanyahu also said he was "not going to run away" from the core issues in the negotiations, but that in his mind "the ultimate core issue is the acceptance of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It is not about settlements; it is about the existence of a Jewish state."

The prime minister's message seemed to register with the senators, because at the press conference both McCain and Lieberman called for an immediate resumption of talks, and for Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state.

"I have come to the conclusion that the prime minister of the State of Israel is right, it is time to sit down without preconditions and begin serious negotiations to bring about a lasting and permanent peace," McCain said. He added that he didn't think "it is much to ask to recognize the right of a country to exist as part of a way to reach an agreement with one's neighbors."