Controlled US-Israel discord on Jerusalem amid broader strategic understandings

The understandings on broad strategic cooperation sealed by US president Barack Obama and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at their recent White House talks are not to the liking of some their opponents at home, debkafile‘s Washington sources report. Tuesday, Nov. 18, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stated: “We find the Jerusalem planning committee’s decision to move forward the approval process for the expansion of Gilo, in Jerusalem, as dismaying.” He added: “We believe that these actions make it more difficult for our efforts (to restart peace negotiations) to succeed.”
He was referring to the approval sought for the addition of 900 housing units to the Gilo neighborhood’s population of 40,000 in the southern neighborhood of Jerusalem opposite Bethlehem. In line with his past statement that “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, not a settlement,” Netanyahu’s office replied: “The action is routine: Gilo is an integral part of united Jerusalem in the same way as Ramat Eshkol, Rehavia, French Hill and Pisgat Zeev. There is no difference between construction in these neighborhoods and construction in Tel Aviv or Haifa.”
debkafile sources add that on the road to clearing impediments for better and more comprehensive strategic understandings, the US president and Israeli prime minister agreed to disagree on some issues including construction in Jerusalem, which Israel would routinely pursue, Washington routinely protest and the Palestinians treat justifiably as a major reverse. At the same time, a high degree of US-Israeli cooperation would go forward on the Palestinian question and, most of all, the two leaders would work together on the looming nuclear threat rushing forward from Tehran, although here too certain US administration elements are trying to rock the boat.
debkafile‘s US sources disclose that one part of the Obama-Netanyahu accord seeks to bolster Israel’s military preponderance in the region, especially with regard to its air force, in view of America’s plans to arm Saudi Arabia and the UAE with advanced warplanes and war materiel for contending with Iranian aerial might. The US president promised Israel the necessary air force jets and electronic gear for maintaining its edge, as well as financing for the continued development of the Arrow-3 project, newly dubbed the Super Arrow.
These understandings followed directly on the joint US-Israeli Juniper Cobra 10 ballistic exercise. The drill was rated successful beyond all expectations by the two participating armies, largely thanks to Obama’s orders to US commanders to share the secrets of their anti-missile electronic jamming capabilities with their Israeli counterparts, the better to promote cooperation in the face of a potential Iranian and/or Syrian missile attack.
The dramatic thaw in relations between the US president and Israeli prime minister appears to trouble their opponents in both capitals. Hence “the Gilo bombshell,” which Israeli media blew up as “driving Washington to despair” and the tendentious Reuter “Analysis” portraying Iran’s president almost incredibly as a crypto-dove. A “senior Iranian official who asked not to be named was quoted as saying: “Despite his hardline image, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to favor a UN-drafted nuclear fuel proposal as a way to shore up his own power and legitimacy five months after his dispute re-election. But he faces stiff opposition from rivals in Iran’s political and clerical elite who would hate to see the abrasive leader reap the credit for a breakthrough with the West.”
In other words, the West should treat the pugnacious Iranian leader with more respect and secondly, not give up on diplomacy with Tehran but be less generous with threats and more with incentives for an accommodation.
As for the “stiff opposition” he purportedly faces, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani may be a leading Ahmadinejad opponent, but his way is to outdo him in harsh oratory against any deals with the West. His purpose is to butter up their boss, the all-powerful spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and draw support from Ahmadinejad’s power base, the Revolutionary Guards. This does not make Ahmadinejad a moderate or detract from the unshakable strength he has built up in Tehran by brutally suppressing the liberal opposition and stubbornly pursuing a nuclear bomb capacity for enhancing Iran’s hegemonic stature.
Both President Obama and prime minister Netanyahu are maneuvering carefully between their objectives and their critics at home while working together to defuse ticking bombs in Tehran and more recently, the signs of radical leanings in Ramallah.

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