How Will Israeli PM Respond to Obama's Demands?

Most Israeli commentators today say this is crunch time for Netanyahu and his government. The U.S. is demanding up front concessions that may fracture Netanyahu's right wing coalition. Ben Caspit in the mass circulation Maariv writes: "When he sits down today with his forum of seven ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu will take a look around and ask himself if the time hasn't come to change its composition. It's politics time now."

Netanyahu will probably be spared any further escalation in his crisis with the U.S. by the intervention of the Jewish festival of Passover. It is reported the Americans will wait for his response until after the holiday, in about a week's time.

Taking Off the Gloves

But then the gloves will be off. Israeli analysts say Obama has made it clear to Netanyahu that the U.S.'s ability to rally regional support against Iran and its nuclear programme depends on real progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It is a linkage that has always made Netanyahu distinctly uncomfortable. He is all too familiar with his country's reliance on American support in confronting what he has repeatedly called Israel's gravest threat.

If Netanyahu can't or won't persuade his inner cabinet today to give in to U.S. pressure, some say the U.S. may publish its own broad vision of the final peace deal, something it has been reluctant to do so far. Given the current list of U.S. demands, it is unlikely such a vision may will appeal to Netanyahu.

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