Israeli officials concerned over rift with US
Sun, 31 May 2009 02:25:48 GMT

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell

Israeli officials are deeply concerned with the growing tension between Tel Aviv and Washington ahead of the US president’s speech in which he is expected to mend fences with the Muslim world.

Following a meeting with US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, in London, Israeli officials expressed frustration.

“We’re disappointed,” Haaretz quoted a senior official as saying. “All of the understandings reached during the [George W.] Bush administration are worth nothing,” added the official who was not named.

The United States under President Barack Obama has withdrawn its carte blanche support for Israel, calling on Tel Aviv to halt all settlement activities and recognize a sovereign Palestinian state — a move that drew the ire of hawkish Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.

Another official quoted by the Israeli daily said that Washington was refusing Tel Aviv’s every attempt to reach new agreements on settlement construction. “The United States is taking a line of granting concessions to the Palestinians that is not fair toward Israel,” he said.

This is while Obama is due to address the Muslim world in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Thursday. His message is expected to narrow the gap between the Muslim world and the United States — a move that if successful would be considered another blow to Israel.

After talks with Mitchell, deputy Israeli prime minister Dan Meridor said Washington’s demands of a complete construction freeze would lead to the ‘dissolution of the Netanyahu government’, according to Haaretz.

“The Americans took something that had been agreed on for many years and just stopped everything,” the Israeli paper quoted an official close to the talks as saying.

“What about the Tenet Report, which demanded that the Palestinians dismantle the terror infrastructure?” said the official, referring to former CIA director George Tenet. “It’s unfair, and there is no reciprocity shown toward the Palestinians.”

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