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Ex-US Envoy Indyk: Bibi’s Refusal to Obama ‘Threatens Alliance’

Former US envoy to Israel Martin Indyk castigated Netanyahu, saying PM prefers a nationalist government over being friends with the United States.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/21/2010, 12:42 PM / Last Update: 4/21/2010, 1:15 PM

Flash 90

Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, castigated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in The New York Times and on Israel’s IDF Army Radio, saying the prime minister prefers a nationalist government over being friends with the United States.

“Netanyahu must make a choice: take on the president of the United States, or take on his right wing,” Indyk wrote in the Times. If he continues to defer to those ministers in his cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.”

National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz sharply criticized Indyk, stating that the “Diaspora has succeeded in creating a Jew like Indyk who is prepared to see the destruction of his people on the sacrificial altar of the masters whom he serves.”

“We survived Pharaoh, and we will survive Indyk.”

MK Katz charged that the former ambassador is “totally disconnected from the U.S. Congressional majority that [acknowledges] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has the democratic right to build in all of its neighborhoods.”

Indyk had previously called for the de facto recognition of Palestinian Authority sovereignty in Jerusalem, which Israel fears would be the effect of the American demand for a freeze on building for Jews in areas of the capital.

Under the headline “When Your Best Friend Gets Angry,” Indyk charged in the Times that “one suspects” that Prime Minister Netanyahu stayed away from U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent “nuclear summit” because “he does not have an answer to President Obama’s demand that he freeze new building announcements” in united Jerusalem.

Indyk repeated his reasoning on IDF Army Radio Wednesday morning, saying that if Israel needs aid from the United States, it needs “to take into account America's interests” and distance itself from the government’s largely nationalist coalition.

In both the article and interview, Indyk tried to link an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, based primarily on demands of the Arab world, with solving the Iranian nuclear threat and the American-led counter terrorist war in what he called the “greater Middle East.” He pointed out that the United States has committed 200,000 American troops to fighting terrorism while Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly ignores American policy that the Arab-Israeli struggle is a problem for American security.

Indyk wrote that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s absence from the nuclear summit left President Obama holding the bag to take on the task of trying to stop the Iranian nuclear program that Israel says threatens its very existence. The former ambassador claimed that President Obama succeeded in “persuading China to join in a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran,” although he did not refer to China’s outright rejection of harsh sanctions, particularly in the energy sector.

“The inability to make progress on the Palestinian [Authority] issue…gives Iran the opportunity to use Hamas and Hizbullah as proxies to provoke conflict with Israel, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seen as the hero,” according to Indyk.

The former envoy also reasoned, “Nothing could better help Obama to isolate Iran than for Netanyahu to offer to cede the Golan [Heights]. Given Israel’s dependence on the United States to counter the threat from Iran and to prevent its own international isolation, an Israeli prime minister would surely want to bridge the growing divide."

Indyk referred to Israel’s refusal to halt building for Jews in parts of Jerusalem that the United States does not recognize as under Israeli sovereignty. He called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to follow the steps of former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, who surrendered the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and a Jewish civilian and military presence in the Gaza region.

According to Indyk, Begin and Sharon acted in order to maintain friendship with the Carter and Bush administrations and Netanyahu should do the same.

He also recalled favorably the famous handshake between former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, orchestrated by Rahm Emanuel, who now is President Obama's White House Chief of Staff. The handshake heralded the Oslo Accords, which were followed by dozens of Arab suicide bombings that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and wounded thousands of others.

The former ambassador also made no reference to the cold peace with Egypt, whose President Hosni Mubarak has refused to visit Jerusalem except for the funeral of Rabin. In his article, Indyk did not mention the thousands of rockets and mortar shells that rained down on Israel following the expulsion of Jews and withdrawal of troops from Gaza, as well as from the smuggling border with Egypt.