Netanyahu 'Expects' Obama to Walk Back Speech

By Jeffrey Goldberg

From Ha'aretz:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday Israel would object to any withdrawal to "indefensible" borders, adding he expected Washington to allow it to keep major settlement blocs in any peace deal.

In a statement after President Barack Obama's speech outlining Middle East strategy, Netanyahu said before heading to Washington that "the viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel's existence".

"That is why Prime Minister Netanyahu expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004," the statement added, alluding to a previous letter from Washington suggesting Israel could keep larger settlement blocs as part a peace deal with the Palestinians.

From Aluf Benn, who suggests that Netanyahu is a sore winner:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can feel satisfied while flying to Washington Thursday night. U.S. President Barack Obama has granted Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory.

In return for his call for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, without defining the size of these lands, Obama accepted Netanyahu's demands for strict security arrangements and a gradual, continuous withdrawal from the West Bank.

He suggested beginning negotiations on borders and security arrangements, and delaying discussions on the core issues such as Jerusalem and refugees.

More importantly, Obama scornfully rejected the Palestinian initiative to attain recognition at the United Nations and to isolate Israel, demanded the Palestinians return to negotiations, and called on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. These points came straight out of the policy pages of the Prime Minister's Bureau in Jerusalem. Netanyahu could not have asked for more: Obama outright rejects Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' recognition campaign, as well as the Palestinian reconciliation agreement.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/netanyahu-expects-obama-to-walk-back-speech/239183/