US President Barack Obama’s attempts to portray himself as pro-Israel in his press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday failed to persuade right-wing MKs, who warned that Obama is “still evil.”
The MKs questioned the president’s motives and suggested that he was putting on a show for American Jews ahead of the crucial November mid-term elections, in which the Democrats may lose control of Congress.
“He doesn’t sound evil now because he needs Jewish votes and money,” said Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara.
“But I won’t forget the pressure he put on Netanyahu and the stress I saw in the prime minister the last time he came back from Washington. He is acting the way he is for political reasons.
I hope he will stay this way but I doubt it, because he hasn’t changed.”
Likud MK Danny Danon said he believes Obama learned his lesson that pressuring Israel does not work. He said he hopes Obama will also learn that the Likud would not allow Netanyahu to continue the 10- month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria beyond September.
“Obama restrained himself and didn’t attack our prime minister this time, but he still set unrealistic expectations for the peace process,” Danon said.
“He is wrong if he thinks the freeze must continue for direct talks to begin. He instead must pressure the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table, regardless of the freeze. He sounds nice now but after November, I am worried that he will sound different.”
National Union MK Arye Eldad, who heads the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus, said Obama was delaying pressure on Israel for tactical reasons. He said Obama realized that Netanyahu would not agree now to extend the freeze, so the president will instead try to initiate direct talks with the Palestinians in order to put Netanyahu in a position in September where he would not be able to resume construction.
“Obama doesn’t sound wicked now, but he was merely buying time,” Eldad said.
“Obama is betting on getting the entire pot. Our job in the [caucus] will be to put pressure on Netanyahu so he won’t make concessions that threaten Israel’s future.”
Meretz leader Haim Oron said he was not impressed by the gestures made by either leader. He expressed hope that Obama would not stop pressuring Netanyahu.
“Bibi is trying to escape the peace process,” Oron said. “If he succeeds, it is bad for Israel.
I hope they put advancing peace above the goal of just getting along.”