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Monday, May 23, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Netanyahu reassured by congressional leaders

WASHINGTON — Leaders of Congress have quietly assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the House and Senate would oppose President Barack Obama's drive for the unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.


Congressional sources said House and Senate leaders have relayed their support for Israel amid Obama's demand for the Jewish state to agree to a unilateral Palestinian state in the West Bank. They said Netanyahu, often referred to by his nickname "Bibi," was assured that Obama was limited in what he could do against Israel without congressional support.

"Bibi was told to be polite [to Obama] but not cave in," a senior congressional aide said.

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[On May 22, Obama told the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee that he has made military cooperation with Israel a U.S. priority, Middle East Newsline reported. The president also said he approved the toughest sanctions on Iran.]

The sources said Obama's campaign against Israel was not shared by the House or Senate leadership or most of Congress. They said most Americans were concerned over economic issues and would not be mobilized against the Jewish state.

The reassurances to Israel, which included pledges of continued U.S. military aid, were said to have been relayed by both Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats controls the Senate while the Republicans form a majority in the House.

On May 19, Obama called on Israel withdraw from the West Bank and most of Jerusalem and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state without a full peace agreement. The president's address, which devoted little attention to Iran or Syria, was strongly criticized by Republicans while Democrats remained silent.

"Obama has the next month to show he's tough with Israel," another congressional source said. "Then, the pressure will be on him to deliver on his promise to withdraw from Afghanistan as well as work on the economy."

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