Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) spoke Monday morning about US President Barack Obama's stated intentions to pressure Israel into massive concessions during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's US visit this week. The two are set to meet Monday in what observers said could be a "tough" experience for Netnayahu.
"The American administration is again pressuring the wrong side," said Akunis. "You don't need to convince Israel to have a desire for peace, that desire exists. Now you need to pressure the serial refusers of peace for the past hundred years -- the Palestinians."
Akunis added "they should start with the most basic thing, recognizing the state of Israel." As basic as the recognition may be, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has consistently refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, creating a deadlock in the talks.
Speaking to Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview published Sunday, Obama warned that time was running out for a peace deal. He further claimed that despite his incessant rejections, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist.”
Obama paraphrased the words of revered Jewish sage Hillel to pressure Netanyahu in the interview, saying "if not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?”
The US president warned that America would have limited ability to protect Israel from "international fallout" should a peace deal not materialize. The warning echoes US Secretary of State John Kerry's threats of an international boycott in early February, a threat made more troubling by reports that Kerry himself was orchestrating the European boycotts.
Given the various American pressures and threats, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) warned on Sunday that "at the moment of truth Israel will find itself alone.”
Akunis has in the past commented that Israel was the "wrong side" to be pressuring, when he stated last Sunday that "the word peace is foreign to the Palestinians."
In noting previous Israeli offers that all met rejection by the PA-side, Akunis argued that "peace does not exist in their lexicon." He added his opposition to US pressure which forced Israel to release terrorist murderers as a "gesture,"