President Obama (White House photo)
JERUSALEM – President Obama’s administration lobbied in recent weeks to ensure against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu working with pro-Israel members of Congress in an attempt to ease White House pressure against the Jewish state, according to senior Palestinian officials speaking to WND.
The Palestinian officials said White House members met with certain Democrat and Republican members of Congress to brief them on Obama’s positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the need to create a Palestinian state within two years.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration feared Netanyahu might turn to pro-Israel members of Congress to help ease American pressure regarding final status-talks and a U.S. demand that Israel halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
According to the Palestinian officials, the Obama administration also has been embarking on a campaign to raise the Capitol Hill profile of J Street, a far-leftist Mideast activist organization that opposes Israel’s Jewish communities in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
J Street takes the Obama White House line on most Mideast matters. The group opposes stronger sanctions against Iran and has been accused of anti-Israel activity.
The Palestinian officials said the White House briefed the Palestinian Authority on its congressional lobbying activities as part of its efforts to convince PA President Mahmoud Abbas to attend yesterday’s brief three-way Mideast summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
The summit ended without any dramatic declaration. Obama, however, vowed to move ahead with the diplomatic process, while he apparently scaled back his demand for a total Jewish settlement freeze, saying instead Israel is discussing “restraining settlement activities.”
Obama reiterated “the United States is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, which will result in two states living side by side – Palestine and Israel. It remains important for the Arab states to take steps to promote peace in the region.”
Obama claimed Israelis and Palestinians have not done enough to bring about peace.
“The Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security,” he said, adding they need to do more to end anti-Israel incitement and move forward on negotiations.
Obama said nothing about rampant Palestinian terrorism or Abbas’ Fatah party’s refusal to recognize the existence of Israel.
The U.S. president also didn’t address the issue of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is gaining ground on Abbas’ territory in the West Bank. Hamas officials in recent days declared their group will not recognize any deal signed between Abbas and Israel.
Meanwhile, Obama stated Israel has “facilitated greater freedom of movement for Palestinians and discussed important steps to restraining settlement activity, but [the Israelis] need to translate the discussion into actions on that and other issues.”