'Obama will Pressure, but Israel Should Politely Refuse'
Israel should politely refuse to bow to any pressure by President Barack Obama, during his upcoming visit to Israel, to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, former Israeli representative in Washington, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, said on Sunday.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Ettinger said that Obama’s ability to pressure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at this time has been significantly weakened as he prepares for the midterm elections next year, meaning that his attention will mostly focus on internal issues during this time period.
Furthermore, he added, despite the fact there is no agreement between Obama and Netanyahu on the issue of peace talks, it is clear that this issue will be pushed to the background in the wake of the continued instability in the Middle East and the so-called Arab Spring. Most Arab leaders have moved the PA issue to the bottom of their list of priorities, noted Ettinger, also contributing to the fact that the issue will likely be pushed aside.
Regarding the more serious matters, namely the Iranian and Syrian issues, Ettinger said there appears to be a growing consensus between Obama and Netanyahu. He said that every day that passes brings Obama's position closer to that of Netanyahu’s regarding Iran.
As for the Syrian issue, the Americans are very concerned that the ongoing civil war in Damascus will spill over to Jordan and turn the regime there into an anti-American one. Ettinger also believes that the Americans fear the collapse of their accomplishments in Iraq in the face of the revolutions in the Middle East.
Obama's main reason for his visit to the region, said Ettinger, is actually to strengthen the pro-American Arab regimes in the area, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He said that there is a real panic in Saudi Arabia over the possibility of a nuclear Iran, and Obama seeks to calm the regime there.
Added to this is the American recognition that Israel is a stable and democratic power in the region, and a country that continues to be an unconditional ally of the United States. According to Ettinger, the main focus among Israelis should be less on the rituals that accompany Obama’s visit and more on the practical cooperations that will result from the visit.