Op-Ed: Netanyahu shouldn’t force Iranian issue on US
New York Times editorial urges Israeli PM not to pressure US administration into unnecessary moves regarding Tehran, hopes Obama will resist any pressure by Jerusalem
WASHINGTON – With US President Barack Obama's administration preparing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nearing Washington visit, the New York Times published an editorial including a list of recommended "dos and don'ts" for the Israeli premier .
The first advice the paper gives Netanyahu is not to "artificially force" Obama to end his Iranian overtures. The paper also calls on the American president to reject any attempt by Netanyahu "to lead Israel, or push the United States, into unnecessary military action."
The Times also referred to the pressure Obama is likely to exert on the Israeli PM regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, suggesting Netanyahu may try to link the two, and urged Obama to resist.
Obama is scheduled to hold a series of meetings with Middle East leaders next week: The meeting with Netanyahu is set for Monday; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will arrive in the White House on May 26 and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the 28th.
The Obama administration, added the editorial, has set a clear agenda regarding its relations with Israel. It would like to see real progress on the two-state solution, halting of settlement construction and the removal of unnecessary IDF checkpoints in the West Bank.
The Times believes Obama should avoid making the same mistakes as his predecessor George W. Bush, who procrastinated the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; a move the paper claims hindered US interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran and gave al-Qaeda and other extremist groups "a reason" to form an anti-US front.
The editorial makes note of the immense difficulties in the negotiations, and the internal strife between the Palestinian factions – which it names as one of the reasons for the stalled process – but nevertheless, it claims that the region's moderate nations, the likes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, may help push the peace process and curb Iran.
The Times offers a possible scenario, suggesting that Obama will ask the Arab leaders he meets after Netanyahu to launch direct negotiations and diplomatic relations, as well as commercial ones.
Pessimism may be a Mideast norm, concludes the editorial, but such steps may dramatically change the situation.