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'Obama can create headache for Netanyahu'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Obama

JERUSALEM – President Obama can make a “headache” for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the Israeli leader does not conduct negotiations leading within two years to a Palestinian state, a top Palestinian Authority official told WND.

The official, speaking on condition his name be withheld, said the Obama administration largely has adopted the positions of the PA to create a Palestinian state within two years based on the 1967 borders, meaning Israel would retreat from most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.

The official said Obama also accepted the PA position that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations begin where they left off under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who went further than previous Israeli leaders in his concessions to the Palestinians.

Olmert reportedly offered the PA not only 95 percent of the West Bank and peripheral eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods but also other territories never before offered by any Israeli leader, including parts of the Israeli Negev desert bordering Gaza as well as sections of the Jordan Valley.

The PA official spoke to WND yesterday just before an expected three-way meeting today between Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The official claimed that regardless of the outcome of the meeting or whether it leads to the immediate resumption of negotiations, the Obama administration will still support the announcement of a Palestinian state within two years.

“We understand from the U.S. that the Netanyahu government is not in a position to go against creating a state within two years,” the official said.

The official claimed the Obama administration was ready to ultimately consider “sanctions” against Israel if the Netanyahu government rejected negotiations leading to a Palestinian state. The official refused to clarify which sanctions he was referring to or whether he was specifically told by the U.S. government it would consider sanctions.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs yesterday tried to play down expectations from today’s expected tripartite meeting, telling reporters, “We have no grand expectations out of one meeting.”

Netanyahu arrived in the U.S. yesterday from a position of domestic political strength, after refusing an Obama administration demand to halt all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.

Nir Hafetz, Netanyahu’s spokesman announced the prime minister would defend the expansion of West Bank settlements when he meets Obama and Abbas together.

Netanyahu “sees the settlements in Judea and Samaria as a Zionist enterprise and the settlers in Judea and Samaria as his – our – brothers,” added Hafetz.