Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein said Thursday that the United States should direct its pressure at the Palestinians rather than at the Israeli side.
Speaking shortly before American President Barack Obama's historic "reconciliation speech" to the Muslim world in Cairo, Edelstein told Ynet that "Israel
is not the right side to pressure. I believe the pressure should be directed at the other side. The United States has no other ally like Israel – from Washington to Africa."
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The minister attempted to lower the expectations ahead of the long-promised address. "Saying that I'm tense ahead of the speech is a lightly heavy expression," he noted.
"I also think that some Congress members from his own party told President Obama what I wish to say to him a moment before the speech. The paradox here is that we know the moderate Arab countries Obama is appealing to are actually interested in bolstering Israel, and fear Iran and elements like Hizbullah and Hamas," he added.
"I'm asking President Obama not to pressure Israel," Edelstein said. "If they are interested in speeding up the peace process, the thing to ignite it is not removing a caravan or another somewhere, but rather pressuring the Palestinian side in terms of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, dismantling the terror infrastructures, and the other known things appearing in the Road Map."
'Not a point of no return'
The minister went on to call for a direct dialogue with the Americans in order to clarify the differences of opinion, including on the outpost issue.
"I have personally never suggested doing something in the middle of the night. With the Americans it's very important to say things in a clear language and in the same way as the president and the prime minister are talking now. They are both telling the truth – that life in Judea and Samaria cannot be halted and frozen."
Edelstein estimated that Obama's address would not include specific demands from Israel, and suggested to view it as "an important milestone no doubt, but not a turning point or a point of no return. I suggest continuing thorough talks with the new administration – finding the bridge, with Israeli compromises, but not on issues which endanger our existence here and badly damage the fragile social fabric."
The minister concluded by saying that "in the past as well, when new administrations in the United States took office, there were dramatic headlines about a rift, unstoppable pressure, and this all ended with a magnificent friendship."