US denies Obama letter to Netanyahu on peace talks

The White House on Thursday denied that President Barack Obama had sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a letter outlining inducements designed to preserve his fragile peace drive.

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2010, 23:43 PM IST

Washington: The White House on Thursday denied
that President Barack Obama had sent Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu a letter outlining inducements designed to
preserve his fragile peace drive.

The denial came after a US analyst with ties to Obama
team member Dennis Ross, posted an online article outlining
inducements Obama purportedly offered Netanyahu in return for
a two-month extension of a settlement moratorium.

The Palestinians have threatened to walk away from
direct US-monitored peace talks with Israel after Netanyahu
declined to extend the 10-month moratorium, which expired on
Sunday.

"No letter was sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu. We`re
not going to comment on sensitive diplomatic matters," said
Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, as intense US efforts
continued to save the peace talks from collapse.

David Makovsky, a commentator with the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, wrote that a draft US letter
was agreed between Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and
chief Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho.

He said it was ultimately sent from Obama`s desk to
Netanyahu and offered assurances, ranging from peace and
security matters to future weapons deliveries in the event of
an Israeli deal with the Palestinians.

According to Makovsky, Netanyahu was minded not to
accept the offer.

Makovsky wrote a recent book on the Middle East
entitled "Myths, Illusions and Peace" with Ross, who heads
Iran policy for Obama, and has been involved in recent US
efforts to promote the Israeli-Palestinian track.

He said the letter pledged the United States would not
ask Israel for another extension of the moratorium after 60
days and would veto any UN Security Council resolution on the
peace talks for a one-year negotiating period.

Makovsky also said the US side pledged to accept the
legitimacy of Israeli security needs, and to maintain a
transitional period for security in the Jordan Valley beyond
any other aspect of the eventual peace deal.

Netanyahu has insisted on keeping Israeli troops on
the eastern borders of a future Palestinian state. The
Palestinians have rejected the idea.

The purported US offer would also commit Washington to
upping the military technology it would make available to
Israel in the event of any deal with the Palestinians,
including warplanes, missile defense systems and access to
satellite early warning systems.

PTI