PM Netanyahu
PM NetanyahuIsrael news photo: file

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said Friday that Israel will not change its policy vis-a-vis Jerusalem despite United States pressure. Netanyahu returned Thursday from a round of meetings in the US during which he was asked to restrict the construction of housing for Jews in parts of the capital city. Right wing MK's and groups are making efforts to show Netanyahu that mainstream Israel is with him on this issue.

Most Israeli mainstream media, however, described the meetings as a failure. The US hoped to talk Netanyahu into making major concessions to the Palestinian Authority, but Netanyahu refused to concede and said he would discuss the matter with his mini-Cabinet of seven senior ministers.

The prime minister is to meet with the seven ministers on Friday to discuss the outcome of his talk with Obama, and to submit America's demands for their consideration.

Obama pushed Netanyahu to agree to extend the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, to release hundreds of terrorists affiliated with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization, and to deny Jews the right to build in parts of Jerusalem that were under Jordanian control between the years 1948 and 1967.

Obama Criticized over 'US-Engineered Deadlock'

Obama's attempt to win Israeli concessions was criticized in America as well as in Israel. The Washington Post published an editorial this week terming the deadlock between Israel and the PA as “a US-engineered deadlock.”

Author Jackson Diehl noted that each of Obama's demands on Israel led to Abbas declaring that the PA will not begin negotiating with Israel if the demand is not met. “How could he do otherwise?” Diehl asked. “The Palestinian leader cannot be less pro-Palestinian than the White House.”

In addition to reducing the PA leadership's willingness to hold talks, Obama “has added more poison to a U.S.-Israeli relationship that already was at its lowest point in two decades,” Diehl continued.

"Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator, needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length. That is something the rest of the world will be quick to notice and respond to,” he said. “Just like the Palestinians, European governments cannot be more friendly to an Israeli leader than the United States. Would Britain have expelled a senior Israeli diplomat Tuesday because of a flap over forged passports if there were no daylight between Obama and Netanyahu? Maybe not.”