Obama warns of new U.S. tactical spats with Israel
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama warned that new “tactical” disagreements loomed between Israel and Washington, but vowed to leverage his administration’s “creative powers” in the cause of peace.
Obama, who has had a testy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at length on the stalled peace process at a fundraiser for his 2012 reelection campaign grouping Democratic friends of Israel.
He said that as a difficult, challenging time loomed in the Middle East over the next few years, one inviolable principle was that the bond between the United States and Israel “isn’t breakable.”
“What is also going to be true is that both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes,” Obama said, arguing the Arab Spring had changed the context of regional diplomacy.
“It’s not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect somehow that things are going to work themselves out.
“We’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to be engaged. We’re going to have to look for opportunities where the best impulses in the Middle East come to the fore and the worst impulses are weakened.”
“There are going to be moments over the course of the next six months or the next 12 months or the next 24 months in which there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems,” Obama said, vowing to bring to bear his administration’s “creative powers” for peace.
The president said that Israel and the United States were united on a broader vision for a secure Jewish state able to live in peace with its neighbors “where kids can get on the bus or go to bed at night and not have to worry about missiles landing on them.”
Obama ignited the latest US row with Netanyahu last month when he said in public what had been private US policy, that 1967 territorial lines, with agreed land swaps should be used to demarcate Israel from a future Palestinian state.
His statement provoked a public scolding from Netanyahu during a subsequent White House visit. The Israeli leader also stressed the “indefensible” nature of the 1967 lines.
Israel and the Palestinians have been at loggerheads over negotiations, which halted shortly after they were relaunched in Washington in September 2010 when a partial freeze on Israeli settlement construction expired.
Israel refused to renew the freeze, and the Palestinians insist they will not hold talks while settlements are being built on land they want for their future state.