' Israel should be careful'

Former envoy stresses Israel's dependence on US, says ball in Netanyahu's court.

March 15, 2010 09:34
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama.

Obama serious 311. (photo credit: AP)

Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin S. Indyk told Channel 2 Monday that while he didn’t agree with Israeli envoy Michael Oren’s assessment that the crisis was the worst since 1975, it was heading in that direction.

Indyk warned Israel to take more care in the way it treats its longtime ally, and said the ball was now "in [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s court.”

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“People should understand that an accumulation of these kinds of incidents has being going on a long time,” he said, referring to Israel's announcement of the planned expansion of east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit last week. “It’s really important to find a way to prevent those that don’t want see this peace process move forward.”

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He denied that the current tensions were due to a Netanyahu-Obama personality clash.

“States act according to interests and governments act according to policies. Personalities play a role but we shouldn't exaggerate it," he said. “Israel talks about chemistry as if it's all that matters…A close, fuzzy relationship is not critical. What is, though, is whether the two sides can reach understandings now about moving forward together."

Indyk warned that Israel has to be careful since it was so dependent on the US, and that Israelis "shouldn’t think they’re such big shots" in this respect.

“People should not fear a fundamental break in the relationship, but because Israel is dependent on the US, when it comes to us they must be careful about things and must not insult the dignity of the US vice president," he said. “They must appreciate that America has interests, too, not just Israel.”

Oren had earlier given his bleak assessment when he convened Foreign Ministry consuls for an emergency briefing.

Oren was referring to a crisis that evolved when Israel refused to sign a treaty to withdraw forces from Sinai after the Yom Kippur War.

In an unusual move, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) made a public call on the White House to tone down the rhetoric. The lobby said statements made by senior officials in US President Barack Obama’s administration were “very worrying.”

In his briefing to consuls, Oren said the crisis with the US is of “historic” proportions.
The US reportedly wants Israel to announce that it’s cancelling the Ramat Shlomo project, investigate how the project came to be announced when Biden was here, and make gestures towards the Palestinian Authority. The US also reportedly demands that Israel publicly announce that all core issues will be discussed during the peace negotiations.

On Sunday, Anti Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman said the US criticism of Israel was “especially troubling” because Netanyahu had offered clear explanations of the announcement mishap both publicly and privately.

“US Vice President Joe Biden accepted the prime minister’s apology,” Foxman said. "Therefore, to raise the issue again in this way is a gross overreaction to a point of policy difference among friends.

“We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States,” the statement continued. “One can only wonder how far the US is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table.”

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