Men building 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – The
Palestinians will have to move to direct negotiations for Israel to
extend its settlement moratorium, a top Israeli negotiator said ahead of
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s White House meeting Monday.Though Israel was
uncomfortable with the previous US policy of
engagement, the current push on sanctions has met with Israeli approval.
direct talks, there’s no way he can extend the moratorium,” Mike Herzog
– who until recently served as Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s chief of
staff, in which capacity he frequently consulted with Obama
administration officials ahead of high-level visits – said of Netanyahu.
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Hadley, the national security adviser in former president George W.
Bush’s second term, also guessed that the issue of the moratorium would
figure prominently in talks between Netanyahu and US President Barack
“My hunch is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for
an excuse to extend the construction ban, and I think direct talks is a
good one,” Hadley said, appearing alongside Herzog at a Washington
Institute for Near East Policy forum Thursday.
He added, “I also
think he will not get to direct talks unless he extends the construction
ban, because I don’t see how [Palestinian Authority] President
[Mahmoud] Abbas comes into direct talks without it.”
came under heavy pressure from the Obama administration to freeze
settlements last year, eventually agreeing to a partial moratorium for
10 months. The moratorium is set to expire in September, which is also
the deadline the Arab League gave for supporting indirect talks between
While Israel has been pushing for direct talks for
over a year, the Palestinians are demanding that Jerusalem deal with
core issues like security and borders in the proximity talks – which
began in May – before moving to face-to-face negotiations.
Herzog and Hadley predicted that difficulties between Israel and the US
would arise in the fall given developments in these and other issues,
but they said that in the short term, next week’s meeting would go well.
think both Israel and the US are determined to make this visit a
success,” Herzog said.
Hadley agreed: “I think this meeting will
restore and strengthen trust between Israel and the United States, both
as two countries but also as two leaders.”
He said that after
the recent “tensions” between the two countries, the US was trying to
alleviate some of Israel’s sense of alienation, “particularly by
speaking to Israel in the language of security.”
'If you want people
to make hard decisions, you don’t put them in a corner'
In addition to
repeatedly reaffirming the importance of the strategic relationship in
public, the US administration recently announced new funding for missile
Hadley added that it was important that Netanyahu know
that America and its president were with him.
“If you want people
to make hard decisions, you don’t put them in a corner,” he said. “You
put your arm around them and say we will be with you and we will walk
through this together.”
At the same time, he argued that this
was a good time for “Israel to take the initiative,” particularly since a
resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would help end
delegitimization of Israel.
Barak has also been urging Israel to
bring its own diplomatic plan to the meeting.
Either way, the meeting is expected
to go smoothly in part because some
sources of friction have been alleviated for the moment, including the
major issue of dealing with Iran.
Herzog: 'The issue of these
Herzog, however, said that “the issue of these sanctions is
time-sensitive.” He gave a window of six months to a year to see if
they were effective.
He predicted that, absent a decision by Iran to rethink its policy, at
that point there would be a debate about what to do.
In the meantime, he reminded the audience that “when Israel says all
options are on the table, they mean it.” And he encouraged other
countries to send the same message.
“If you want sanctions to have an impact, the Iranians need to know
that there are worse options for them down the road if they don’t
change,” he said.