The Six Issues That Divide Bibi from Barack

The Six Issues That Divide Bibi from Barack

President Barack Obama welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the
White House, Monday, at a moment when the White House and the Israeli
leadership are undeniably at odds over the path to Middle East peace. While
the Obama Administration remains steadfastly committed to Israel’s security,
its ideas on how to achieve that security differ markedly from those of the
hawkish Netanyahu government. As Obama moves to revive the stalled Middle
East peace process, Monday’s meeting has been widely predicted to be a tense
affair, but that may be overstating the drama. Netanyahu, like any Israeli
prime minister, has an overwhelming incentive to get along with Israel’s
single most important ally; Obama, for his part, needs to fashion a peace
process that produces results, for which he requires Netanyahu’s
cooperation. So Monday’s encounter won’t be a showdown as much as the
opening exchange of a difficult conversation that could continue for

Herewith, a short guide to the issues that divide Obama and

A Two-State Solution
The idea of creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel on
the territory it occupied in 1967 is the overwhelming international
consensus, accepted even — according to opinion polls — by a majority
of Israelis. The Obama Administration is not content to simply articulate
that vision, as President George W. Bush did; instead, it seeks to move
briskly towards realizing such a solution before the evolving facts on the
ground make it untenable. Netanyahu, however, has refused to endorse the
principle of Palestinian statehood, insisting that sovereign independence for
the Palestinians would endanger Israel’s security. The Palestinians,
Netanyahu has argued until now, will have to settle for a more limited form
of self-government within borders still effectively controlled by
Israel. Despite some speculation that he might make a rhetorical concession on the statehood issue on Monday, a top aide told the Israeli media Netanyahu would not do so — at least, not yet.

The Administration has made clear that it expects Israel to work towards
a two-state solution. Netanyahu is expected to agree to talk to the
Palestinians, to ease their circumstances and build their economy. But he
maintains that trying to reach a final-status agreement right now is
misguided and counterproductive, arguing that the priority is to build
Palestinian administrative, security and economic capacity — and to
tackle Iran, which he sees as a spoiler to any peace effort.

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