(Barak David-Haaretz).Washington is pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accede to its proposal to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the basis of U.S. President Barack Obama's May 19 speech.
Netanyahu's personal envoy, Isaac Molho, spent last week in Washington, where the Americans presented their proposal for resuming talks on the basis of Obama's speech, The Americans told Molho that to block European initiatives such as France's proposal for an international peace conference in Paris, they must have something concrete to offer, like Netanyahu's agreement to negotiate on the basis of Obama's speech.
Meanwhile, a European diplomat who was briefed on Molho's talks in Washington said they were fruitless. "The Americans didn't get anything new from Molho," the diplomat said.
An Israeli source who maintains close ties with both senior U.S. officials and people close to Netanyahu said that Washington's frustration began with Netanyahu's trip to Washington last month, when he publicly fought with Obama and then refused in an address to Congress to endorse the president's outline for talks. The Americans were now speaking very harshly of Netanyahu, said the source.
"He's asking us to protect him in September, but he isn't giving us any tools with which to help him," the source quoted one American official as saying. "Instead of helping us, he's making it harder for us."
As a result, American officials complained, Obama was unable to get Britain and France to commit to opposing a unilateral Palestinian move when he visited Europe last month.
"The Americans need Israel inside, but Netanyahu isn't there yet," the source said. "To date, from the American and European perspective, Israel hasn't given anything."
European diplomats said Netanyahu's speech to Congress was viewed in Europe as one long "no" and had thus increased European distrust of him. "We want to hear Netanyahu say he's willing to negotiate on the basis of Obama's speech and that he'll discuss borders based on the 1967 lines with land swaps," said one diplomat.