Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Netanyahu: If Obama presents signed guarantees, Cabinet will be pushed to approve Freeze with great conviction

Israel has demanded the United States provide written security guarantees before it votes on whether to agree to freeze Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, an Israeli political source said Tuesday.

The official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the offer to his Cabinet only upon receiving written guarantees which “reflect the understandings reached during his talks with Hillary Clinton in New York.”

Jerusalem is insisting that it is the Palestinians who are delaying a finalized version of the US proposal. “What is causing the delay in drafting an agreed version of the American paper is the Palestinian claim that the understandings between Clinton and Netanyahu are too good for Israel and deny them of pressure means,” a state official said.

“The political benefits take the pressure off Israel and prevent the Palestinians from carrying out their strategic plan of evading direct talks and trying to impose UN resolutions on Israel.”

Another official said the agreement includes an American commitment to veto any initiative brought before the UN to bypass the peace negotiations; a US commitment not to demand another freeze extension beyond the agreed upon 90 days and guarantee that the borders issue will not be negotiated on separately.

Government officials who are familiar with the issue told Ynet that Netanyahu’s demand for written guarantees has resulted in some tension with the Americans.

An Israeli official on Tuesday denied reports of tensions between Israel and the United States over the American proposal for a further freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, in particular a letter from President Barack Obama sought by Israel that would detail the incentives offered by the U.S. in return for a new moratorium on settlement building.

“Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu stands firm on the terms essential for the security of Israel and its diplomatic interests,” the source said.