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Netanyahu and Obama are at point of no return; Obama demands Netanyahu’s peace answers by Saturday

The strife between Israel and the United States concerns something far bigger than the proximity talks with the Palestinians. As far as President Barack Obama and his senior advisers are concerned, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame for nothing less than damaging the standing of the the Middle East and the Muslim world.

This year's Arab League summit will be the scene of struggle between the allies of Iran and the allies of American, and the violation of the status quo in Al Quds - Jerusalem - has direct implications for the balance of power between the sides. Over the last few weeks, Americans have been giving life support to the Arab Peace Initiative, born at the League's summit in Beirut 2002 and set to be on the agenda this week.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decisively supported General David Petraeus, the first American military man in years to describe Israel as a strategic burden on the U.S. Gates said America's rivals in the Middle East are abusing the standstill of the political process between Israel and the Arabs. He stressed that he had no doubt a lack of peace in the region was influencing American interests there.

Netanyahu had been hoping to buy time until November's Congressional elections, which coincide with the deadline he set for the settlement freeze. But with America's strategic interest on the line, Bibi's favorite political game (playing the Jewish community and Congress against the White House and the State Department) isn't working anymore. Obama decided his moderate Middle East coalition is more important than Netanyahu's extremist one. This is a point of no return.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is back in Israel conferring with his security team on their next move. Netanyahu continues to claim that his right to build in east Jerusalem remains the same as every past prime minister, and because so, he will continue to approve building projects. 

Unfortunately, these ill-timed building projects have caused worldwide condemnation to come down on Israel and caused considerable embracement for US leaders.  But this latest rift between the US and Israel is much more than about east Jerusalem building projects.  Many in the US intelligence and military community are questioning the wisdom behind a US-Israeli relationship. CENTCOMM commander, General David Petraeus, recently described "Israel as a strategic burden on the U.S."  By the way, General Petraeus has requested that President Obama place the West Bank and Gaza Strip under his area of responsibility.  If this goes forward it would essentially place a US military shield around these two regions (

Bernard Avishai, an Israeli-American political economist and author of The Tragedy of Zionism and The Hebrew Republic, points out that it's not just about the $3 billion in annual US military aid either.

"So it's not just the money or the smart bombs or the aircraft that Israel gets from America," Avishai said. "Much more important is that we export $60 billion worth of stuff every year. That's $60 billion of relationships with developed world companies. If Israel starts to become the sort of spoiled brat of the West, where all kinds of Western companies start to distance themselves from Israeli companies because it's too embarrassing or too much trouble for them, we could have an economic implosion here (The Media Line)."

President Obama has given Prime Minister Netanyahu until Saturday to comply with US demands.  The Obama administration will in turn take these commitments to the Arab League meeting in Libya (Saturday) to get their endorsement to go forward with proximity talks. 

Israel is in danger of becoming isolated by the West if they continue to defy the US.  I agree with most Middle East experts that the status quo cannot continue.  Already the UK and France are considering measures that  will send a strong message to the rest of the world that they will stand with the US.

It will be interesting to see if Israel continues its face-off with the US.  Frankly, I believe they will give into US demands for a number of reasons, but a recent survey was most telling where it found that the majority of Israeli's (60%) didn't believe they could survive without the US

Breaking News: (Reuters) - A South Korean naval ship sank near the disputed maritime border with North Korea, killing some of the more than 100 crew on board, but officials played down suggestions that it may have been attacked by the North.

Are you ready to meet the Lord?  If not, your time is running out!

Terry Malone

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Home Page                                                                                                            Last Updated March 26, 2010 

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