Professor Moshe Arens, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and Defense Minister in the Gulf War in 1991, says it is “not a big problem” for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to say “no” to Obama.
“Americans respect us when we stand on principle,” he told Israel National News. He said Israel, at times when it was politically weaker than today, often took stands against U.S. presidents “who were our friends.”
Arens specifically referred to the end of the 10-month building freeze on new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, where U.S. President Barack Obama wants Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend it for another 60 days in order to satisfy the demands of Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel instituted the freeze because of Abba’s demands last year, but he had balked at direct talks with Israel until two months ago, when he gave in to American pressure. Prime Minister Netanyahu has reasoned that Abbas’ intentions are not honest because he has had 10 months to resume discussions.
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As for relations between the Prime Minister and President Obama, Arens said that good personal contact will not last if the Prime Minister appears to be a weak leader.
“There are also limits to what the U.S. government can do and there is nothing to fear,” Arens explained.
Prime Minister Netanyahu convened his Inner Cabinet Tuesday morning among conflicting reports of whether he has agreed to accept the American demand to extend the building freeze for another 60 days in return for several guarantees. Opponents fear that agreeing to the freeze would in effect favor the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to draw the lines of its new proposed Arab country according to Israeli borders that existed from 1949 until 1967.