Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu to visit President Obama – talks expected to turn toward Iran's nuclear program
On March 4, 2012 At 1:04 pm
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Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will be meeting with President Barack Obama tomorrow. The meeting is expected to be tense as the talks turn to Iran's nuclear program.
There are already uneasy relations between the administration and Israel. Early in the Obama administration, the president told Israel that they need to acknowledge a two-state solution with Palestine and to stop building illegal settlements. Israel agreed to the two-state acknowledgment, but continued building illegal settlements.
Human rights organizations have condemned the ongoing illegal settlements, reporting that they have displaced over 30 percent of Palestinians and deprived them of basic rights, such as medical services.
At the United Nations early in the Obama presidency, the president said that America does not support the illegal settlements. Israel then put a ten-month hold on its building and in return, received bunker buster bombs from the United States — something that President George W. Bush would not supply to Israel. But then Israel announced the construction of another 1,600 new settlements when Vice President Joe Biden visited there.
The president was reportedly angry, and sent that message by refusing to allow Netanyahu to be seen in the Oval Office during his next visit. President Obama had demanded concessions from Israel that were not met, although the president authorized giving Israel an additional $200 million for a defensive missile system and eventually dropped the demand for a settlement freeze altogether.
After blocking a U.N. resolution condemning the settlements that the president had been against, President Obama continued to try to bring some type of concession over the expanding settlements, saying, "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually-agreed swaps."
This statement angered American conservatives, who quickly denounced the president as being "anti-Israel." Although former President George W. Bush's declared that the borders should be negotiated based on the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities, conservatives declared that President Obama had "abandoned Israel" and "thrown Israel under the bus" and religious right leaders claimed that the president's statement was "offensive to Christians." A coalition of religious right leaders formed an "Israel, You're Not Alone" group to speak out against the president, with some even claiming that the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, were because of God's wrath that the United States was not supporting Israel.
Netanyahu publicly derided the president's statement, saying that it was impossible for Israel to go back to the 1967 lines because they were indefensible.
Despite the ongoing disagreement over the settlements, the United States again supported Israel by vetoing Palestine's attempt to be recognized as a state in the United Nations, saying that continued settlement negotiations would be a better alternative.
It is expected that Netanyahu will discuss a potential strike on Iran over its nuclear program during tomorrow's visit.
Analysts suggest that while American voters say that they are pro-Israel, they do not understand the implications of a strike against Iran or the complexity of what is happening in the Middle East.