In Curt Exchange, U.S. Faults on Housing Israel
By MARK LANDLER and ETHAN BRONNER
The Obama administration is struggling to restart direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, which stalled last month after the expiration of a partial freeze on settlement construction in the
But the brusque exchange between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu reflected again the gulf between Israel and the
When asked in about Israel’s plans for 1,000 housing units for a contested part of
“I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” the president added during his visit to
A few hours later, Mr. Netanyahu’s office responded with a statement, saying that “
Despite their efforts to build mutual trust, Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu seem to keep talking past each other. On Tuesday, they were worlds apart in symbolism as well as substance: the president voiced his criticism of
Mr. Netanyahu was in New York, meeting business people, midway through a visit to the United States that included a speech to a Jewish group in New Orleans on Monday, in which he called on Washington to be more aggressive in threatening Iran with a military strike if it did not give up its nuclear program.
Analysts said Mr. Netanyahu’s unyielding tone — a palpable contrast to his chagrined reaction after a similar housing dispute during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — testified to the altered political environment in the United States. The stinging Democratic defeat in the midterm elections, the analysts said, had emboldened Mr. Netanyahu to push back harder against the administration.
“He is dealing with a president who is politically weakened,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to
Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, rejected that view. “We’re not looking for a confrontation with the Obama administration,” he said.
He said Mr. Netanyahu was eager to discuss with Mrs. Clinton “how we are going to move forward, once we get over this hump.”
But Mr. Oren declined to say whether Mr. Netanyahu would offer new proposals for breaking the impasse. The
Israeli officials have said Mr. Netanyahu is hemmed in by his right-wing coalition, which opposes extending the freeze. Some officials said that by taking a hard line on
On Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton will meet with
Whether that would be enough to satisfy the Palestinians without an extension of the settlement freeze is not clear. In another gesture to the Palestinians, Mrs. Clinton will announce the
Mr. Netanyahu has supported Mr. Obama’s mix of engagement and sanctions against
“If the international community, led by the
Dan Diker, a senior foreign policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the speech was calculated to “push the military option to the top paragraph of the policy from the third or fourth paragraph.”
But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that the threat of military action was not the best way to deter
Still, the timing raised questions about what Mr. Netanyahu knew and when. After Mr. Biden’s visit to
At the time, Mr. Netanyahu’s aides said he sent out letters demanding lists of future settlement plans to avoid surprises while peace talks were under way. It was unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu knew about this one before it was published in newspapers last week. On Tuesday, it also became clear that some 800 units would be built in the
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said
The Palestinian leadership has been talking about shifting its focus to getting international recognition of a Palestinian state if settlement building continued and the peace talks remained stalled. The Obama administration and Arab states have urged it not to go that route.
Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Ethan Bronner from
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs