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White House: Nothing Offered in Exchange for Freeze

Netanyahu was criticized by the left for allegedly rejecting U.S. support in exchange for extending freeze. Now, U.S. denies making those promises.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/30/2010, 10:45 PM / Last Update: 9/30/2010, 11:08 PM

White House Video

Netanyahu was criticized by the Left after a report Wednesday according to which he had rejected a promise of U.S. support in exchange for continuing the freeze on construction for Judea and Samaria Jews. Washington insider David Makovsky had claimed that the U.S. sent Israel a letter offering, among other things, to sell some of its most sophisticated weapons to Israel if it would freeze construction for two more months.

The letter also allegedly offered a U.S. veto on an Arab League attempt to get the United Nations to vote, without waiting for Israel and the PA to reach an agreement,  for the creation of an Arab state, to be named Palestine, in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In addition, Obama was said to have committed not to ask for an additional construction freeze when the two months were over.

On Thursday night, White House officials denied the report. “No letter was sent to the Prime Minister,” they stated.

The officials went on to say that they “are not going to comment on sensitive diplomatic matters,” and did not confirm or deny that the U.S. may make future promises in exchange for a construction freeze.

Chairman Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) of the National Union party criticized Yitzchak Molcho, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Thursday evening for his reported role in the affair. MK Katz warned, "The offer of advisor Molcho is like the advice of Achitofel, which will bring about the downfall of Netanyahu for the same reason he fell a decade ago." Achitofel was a wise man of the time of King David who gave the king bad advice with disastrous results. The expression "advice of Achitofel" is an Israeli idiom alluding to suggestions for actions which sound sensible but are fraught with disaster.

Ten months ago, Israel offered a one-time temporary construction freeze under which the hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Judea and Samaria would be prohibited to build in any way, including adding on to existing homes, building much needed classrooms or beginning construction on approved building projects. The offer was meant to bring the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

The PA initially refused to negotiate despite the freeze, but agreed to start talks in the ninth month, so as to use the continuation of the freeze as a condition for continuing talks. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas then demanded that Israel continue the freeze, threatening to leave talks if building resumed.

Netanyahu refused, and building resumed this week.