White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has made it clear to Israel that a permanent status arrangement must be reached with the Palestinians over the next few years – no matter what.

President Barack Obama’s chief of staff reportedly made his comments during a conversation with a Jewish leader in Washington, D.C., and his words have recently come to light in Israel.

“In the next four years, there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister,” Mr. Emanuel was quoted as having said.

Mr. Emanuel’s words have been publicized amid reports the Obama administration has also informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Mr. Obama will not be able to meet with him early next month during his scheduled appearance at the American Israel Political Action Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference in Washington, D.C.

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Mr. Netanyahu had hoped to capitalize on the opportunity and meet with Mr. Obama during the annual conference, but the Americans informed the Israelis that Mr. Obama was not going to be “in town.”

That being the case, Mr. Netanyahu’s aides hope to cancel his trip to attend the conference and try to secure a meeting with Mr. Obama later in May.

These actions come as the Obama administration has sharpened its rhetoric regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The administration has told Mr. Netanyahu’s government that confronting Iran’s nuclear threat will be contingent on progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from areas that it acquired in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Senior Obama administration officials are aware of how the prime minister and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak have linked their willingness to achieve progress with the Palestinians with America’s willingness to confront Iran.

Possibly as a result of the Israeli stance, they have also begun to talk about “Bushehr for Yitzhar,” meaning U.S. willingness to pressure Iran about its nuclear reactor near the city of Bushehr depends on having Israel dismantle the Jewish settlement of Yizhar on the West Bank.

Residents of Yitzhar were not pleased by the American demand.

“I am more than merely suspicious that it was Israelis who put together that rhyme, maybe Israelis who work with Obama,” said Yigal Amitai, a resident of Yitzhar. “After all, it isn’t Yitzhar that bothers the Arabs, but the very Israeli presence anywhere to the west of the Jordan River. I haven’t got any expectations of the Americans, but I do expect that Mr. Netanyahu make it clear that those ideas are completely out of the question.”

Eli Eitan, an American citizen who moved to Yitzhar from New York 11 years ago,

also expressed his disgust with the Obama administration’s demands.

“As an American citizen I’m offended by that statement. How can one draw a comparison between a country whose entire substance is terrorism, and me, who only wants to settle in my homeland?” Mr. Eitan asked.

These U.S.-Israeli controversies also coincide with Obama Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s visit to Israel.

Mr. Mitchell met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday, and reports indicate Mr. Lieberman reiterated Israeli demands for the Palestinians to disarm their terrorist organizations before negotiations can proceed.

At the same time, Palestinians received Mr. Mitchell’s visit by firing yet another salvo of rockets into Israeli territory. This marked the 187th rocket attack from Gaza since Israel declared a self-imposed cease-fire on January 18.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.