President Barack Obama has written a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offering "a string of assurances to Israel in return for a two-month moratorium extension. David Makovsky, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank associated with the Jewish lobby AIPAC, has revealed this. He writes that according to U.S. officials the letter makes commitments on issues ranging from current peace and security matters to future weapons deliveries in the event that peace-related security arrangements are reached.
Politico, the blog of the usually well informed Laura Rozen had previous knowledge of Makovsky's publication. Rozen thinks it plausible to assume that Makovsky's revealing of Obama's written had got the green light of epople withing the American government in order to make known the offer Netanyahu has to date turned down -- and thus to encourage him to accept it. Makovsky writes that the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak -- who Makovsky describes as closely consulting with the administration on the draft letter -- thinks Netanyahu should accept the Obama proposal.
The letter "guarantees that Washington will not ask for a moratorium extension beyond 60 days," Makovsky writes. "Rather, the future of settlements is to be settled at the table as part of territorial negotiations.
"Second, the letter promises that the United States will veto any UN Security Council initiative -- Arab or otherwise -- relating to Arab-Israeli peace during the agreed one-year negotiating period. And third, Washington pledged to accept the legitimacy of existing Israeli security needs and not seek to redefine them", which among other things seems to include that Israel is entitled to keep a military presence in the Jordan Valley.
The White House declined to comment on the reported Obama letter.
However, Dennis Ross (picture), Obama's most importrant Middle Est man at the National Security Council, told Jewish members of Congress in a briefing on Wednesday, that Netanyahu has expressed his appreciation for the proposed U.S. package that includes "American pledges of support to Israel on certain political and security objectives" - but had so far rejected it.