Tuesday, March 30, 2010

President Obama's Demands Mark Dramatic Shift in US Policy Towards Israel, Says Some Analysts

Obama's demands mark dramatic shift in US policy towards Israel

Analysts say Tel Aviv worried as American diplomacy changes tack
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Published: 00:00 March 31, 2010

Demands tabled by US President Barack Obama last week during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mark a dramatic change in US policy towards Israel, Israeli political sources have said.

The demands are the tip of the change iceberg and indicate an intention to impose a permanent peace deal on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday.

Four of Obama's demands deal with occupied Jerusalem. These include moves to open a Palestinian commercial interests office in occupied east Jerusalem; halt the destruction of structures in Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied Jerusalem; end construction work in Jewish neighbourhoods in occupied east Jerusalem; and scrap plans to build the neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo, the Israeli daily said.


However, the key demand to discuss the core issues at the centre of the dispute, during the planned indirect talks, has been perceived as "problematic" in Tel Aviv.

Such a development would set up a framework through which the Americans would be able to impose a final deal to resolve the dispute.

It is not just Obama's demands that are perceived as problematic, but also the new modus operandi of American diplomacy.

The fact that the White House and State Department have been in contact with Israel's European allies is seen as part of an effort to isolate Israel and put enormous political pressure on it, the unnamed sources were quoted as saying.

Israeli officials say that the Obama administration's new policy contradicts commitments made by previous administrations, as well as a letter from George W. Bush in 2004 to the prime minister at the time, Ariel Sharon.

According to them, the new policy is also incongruous with a framework tabled by Bill Clinton in 2000.

Senior Israeli sources say that as a result of the US administration's policies, the Palestinians will toughen their stance and seriously undermine the success of the peace process.

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