By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent
The U.S. administration is furious over Israeli incitement against President Barack Obama, Democratic congressmen close to Obama told an Israeli source who returned from a visit to Washington this week.
The congressmen even hinted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been personally involved.
The source, who met in Washington with administration officials and members of Congress, told Haaretz he was stunned by the level of anger there over attempts to portray Obama to the American public as an enemy of Israel because of his efforts to restart peace talks and freeze settlement construction.
“There are people here who are playing with fire by damaging our relationship with the U.S.,” the source said.
Last month’s summit in New York between Obama, Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also reduced Washington’s expectations of a speedy resumption of final-status talks between Israel and the PA. While U.S. envoy George Mitchell will meet Netanyahu again Friday, the meeting is not expected to resolve the crisis in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Meanwhile, King Abdullah of Jordan warned Washington recently that Israel’s settlement policy in East Jerusalem is undermining the stability of Israeli-Jordanian relations.
He also ordered the Jordanian embassy in Israel to submit an official protest to the Foreign Ministry over a plan to build a new Jewish neighborhood on lands belonging to the East Jerusalem village of Walaja.
Finally, he warned against opening the Mughrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount after the Jewish holidays end next week, and against using planned renovations to change the status quo on the site.
A senior official in Amman told Haaretz this week that the clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem are causing unrest throughout Jordan and encouraging extremists. During Israel’s operation in Gaza this January, he said, there were no fewer than 600 anti-Israel demonstrations in Jordan – several times the number registered in the West Bank during those same weeks.
Abdullah himself sought to use his his exclusive interview with Haaretz to rouse Israeli public opinion from its apathy about the freeze in the peace process and the government’s support for rightist groups that seek to deepen Jewish control over Jerusalem’s Old City and its environs. Amman is concerned that Abbas’ growing weakness, along with the lack of progress despite Mitchell’s many visits to the region, will increase pressure on the Arab League to suspend the peace initiative it adopted in March 2002.
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By ZALMAN SHOVAL
US President Barack Obama’s inspirational speech at the UN included more than a few passages about the Middle East conflict. He expressed the hope for “a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world,” a wish shared by all Israelis. Upon closer look at some of the president’s statements, several question marks arise.
The speech didn’t, for instance, mention Islamic fundamentalism or Jihadism, the principal reasons for instability in the Middle East and beyond. Nor did it condemn the Arab world’s refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people’s right to a state of its own. No less problematic, the reference to ending “the occupation that began in 1967” puts history on its head, as it implies, perhaps unintentionally, that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This clearly inverts cause and effect.
As the writer and historian Simon Schama wrote, history should endeavor “to disentangle fact from fable,” also reminding us that one of America’s Founding Fathers, John Adams, had said “Facts are stubborn things.” Well, the facts regarding the conflict in the Holy Land, though often deliberately or inadvertently distorted or ignored , are indeed “stubborn.” Terrorist activities against Israel had started years before the “occupation,” and the PLO committed to the destruction of the Jewish state was founded in 1964
NO LESS important in the factual and historical sense are the actual antecedents of the “Six-Day War” which resulted in the “occupation” to which the president’s speech referred.
On May 13, 1967 the Egyptian dictator Gamel Abdel Nasser announced that two Egyptian divisions would move into the Sinai Peninsula bordering on southern Israel – contrary to international agreements, US commitments and UN guarantees. Caving in to Nasser’s blustering, the then UN Secretary U Thant agreed to remove the UN emergency force from the area.
The next day, Egyptian armored and infantry columns crossed the Suez Canal and started moving towards the Israeli frontier. Shortly after, Cairo announced that it would block all shipping to the port of Eilat, Israel’s only maritime outlet in the south, while Egyptian Mig21 war planes began flying over Israeli territory including the Dimona area. Concurrently, Syrian and Iraqi forces were ordered to prepare for an assault on northern Israel. The minimum strategic aim of the Egyptians, as was revealed later, was to cut off Israel’s Negev from the rest of the country – but Nasser himself, in both public and secret statements, left no doubt that his ultimate aim was the complete annihilation of the State of Israel.
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