Barak speech serious 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool )
Key government officials downplayed the tension between US President Barack
Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the weekend, arguing that
Obama’s Thursday speech was not anti-Israel, and that the gaps between Israeli
and American policy were not as large as they seemed.
RELATED: 'Obama says Netanyahu unable to make peace' PA to Obama: Put a stop to PM's blatant peace refusalAnalysis: Obama-Netanyahu: Not everything is personal
“I don’t think that
Obama’s speech was so terrible,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Speaking on Channel 2’s “Meet the Press,” Barak said, “The gaps are
smaller than what they seem to us to be. I don’t think that the president said
that we must return to the 1967 borders, he said that we need to have a
discussion on the borders on the basis of the 1967 lines with agreed
“Obama’s position is not very different from the traditional
American positions. The Obama plan details a version that is more comfortable to
Palestinian ears, but also details a version that is more comfortable to Israeli
ears, because it erases September,” Barak continued.
“When we hear the
details, it will turn out that the meeting was less dramatic than it
When the visit ends, the gaps will seem less dramatic and the
tension less extreme.”
The defense minister also downplayed the tension
that many believed evident during the joint press conference held on Friday
evening between Obama and Netanyahu.
“I think that Netanyahu said what
stems from his understanding of his role,” Barak said. “It is good that
Netanyahu called attention to the fact that we expect recognition of settlement
blocs and that the refugees need to settle within the Palestinian state, and
that the entire process needs to lead to the end of the conflict.”
Ayalon, deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to the US, also was
careful to point out the good points in Obama’s Thursday speech.
president maintains Israel’s right to self-defense, for the need for defensible
borders and to put an end to Palestinian claims,” he said during a Shabbat event
“The Obama speech made it clear that an agreement will not be
imposed on Israel, and that the unilateral process [of declaring statehood in
September] is destined for failure,” Ayalon said.
The organization My
Israel plans to hold a demonstration at 6 p.m. Sunday in front of the US Embassy
in Tel Aviv under the slogan, “Obama Israelis are not willing to commit
Protestors plan to hang nooses around their necks.
of the group leaders, Ayelet Shaked, said Obama’s demand to use the pre-1967
line as the basis for negotiations was unprecedented for the US. She said that
it rewarded Hamas, who supported Osama Bin Laden.
This kind of suicidal
request which would lead to the launching of missiles at the center of the
country, including at Ben-Gurion airport, is not something that one friend
demands of another, particularly a strong ally like Israel, she
There are Israelis who are prepared to make concessions and some
who refuse to do so, she said, adding, “but no one will agree to commit
The demand to base talks on 1967 borders, Ayalon said in a
near-echo of Obama’s own statements, was “an issue of disagreement among
friends,” adding that he did not believe that “it influences or will influence
the friendship and the alliance between Israel and the United
Despite his conciliatory tone regarding Obama’s speech, Ayalon
plans to visit E-1, a controversial area of the larger settlement blocs, the
city of Ma’aleh Adumim, located just outside of Jerusalem.
Mayor Benny Kashriel has long lobbied for permission to build on the site, which
hosts only a regional police station.
Over the last two decades, many
politicians and prime ministers have told Kashriel that the project for 3,500
apartment units would proceed, but no government has ever made good on those
Palestinians have opposed construction of E-1, claiming that it
would harm the territorial contiguity of their future state. The US has heavily
lobbied Israel against building on the site.