Obama is scheduled to visit Israel within the next few weeks, and there are already discussions about the “cost” of his visit. When I say cost, I am referring to the political cost.
According to the Israeli weekend newspaper Sof Hashavu (pictured right), the cost to Netanyahu will be one year freeze in the construction of settlements.
The reason being that Netanyahu is expecting a major international push for the peace process to restart. In order to reduce the upcoming pressure, the report says that there will be a one year construction freeze.
Israeli papers have also been reporting that the Netanyahu government is worried about Obama coming here before coalition negotiations for the next government are over. It is very likely that Obama will embrace Yair Lapid‘s new party because of its more centrist values. This could increase Lapid’s leverage in the negotiations, something which Likud Beitenu would not want.
For now Lapid and Naftali Bennet’s party have formed a united front in demanding that Netanyahu agrees to new draft laws for the religious students. Lets see how far they get. I hope they don’t give in.
I will be happy with a one year freeze. It would be a mistake for Abbas to reject it. The fact that Obama will be going to Ramallah during his trip is a sign that he too is likely to be placed under pressure to negotiate.