JERUSALEM (Jun. 7)
Posters plastered around Jerusalem depict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an Arab headdress and call him “The Liar.”
The posters, which appeared amid reports that the premier is on the verge of agreeing to transfer an additional 13 percent of West Bank lands to the Palestinians, are reminiscent of the hate campaign conducted against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to his assassination in 1995.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party issued a statement that the posters were being distributed by “crazy extremists.”
The attack on the prime minister appears to be an attempt to forestall any action on the part of the Israeli government.
There have been conflicting reports in recent days that efforts by the U.S. administration to revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may be close to fruition.
The United States has been pressing Israel to accept a 13 percent pullback from the West Bank in exchange for a series of Palestinian steps to crack down on terrorism.
The latest draft of the U.S. plan, which was published in Israeli newspapers last week, also makes clear that Israel will have to curtail settlement activity.
Netanyahu told reporters after Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting that Israel “was working on an agreement” to break the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but added, “We are not there yet.”
At the Cabinet session, Netanyahu once again refrained from holding a discussion with all his ministers about the ongoing negotiations regarding the pullbacks.
A Cabinet statement quoted him as saying that talks were at a “delicate stage,” a situation that did not allow for the full Cabinet’s deliberation.
Some Cabinet members have recently criticized Netanyahu for refusing to discuss the redeployment negotiations with all of his ministers.
Instead, the premier has reserved such consultations for the three members of his Inner Cabinet: Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon and Trade Minister Natan Sharansky.
While not getting into details during Sunday’s Cabinet session, Netanyahu was quoted as saying that the discussions with the United States on the nature of the redeployments were in keeping with previous Cabinet decisions regarding national security.
Netanyahu told the ministers that Israel had presented the United States with a list of concrete commitments Israel is seeking from the Palestinians, including convening the Palestine National Council to annul those clauses in its charter that call for the destruction of Israel.
Last week, Netanyahu said there had been “some progress” toward reaching an agreement, and that when it was achieved he would not hesitate to bring it to the government and the Knesset.
Meanwhile, Palestinian officials rejected a reported Israeli proposal for reducing a further redeployment later this year in exchange for increasing the amount of territory to be turned over in the redeployment now being negotiated.
Dr. Ahmed Tibi, an adviser to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, was quoted as saying, “It is the idea of the Prime Minister’s Office and it is ridiculous.”