Israel sees no real change in US policy on Mideast

JERUSALEM, Jan 21, 2009 (AFP) - Israel is not expecting President Barack Obama's administration to change significantly US policy on the Middle East, deputy Prime Minister Chaim Ramon said on Wednesday.

"The core policy of the United States will certainly not change," Ramon told Israel's public radio.

"This policy has two principles: the struggle against terrorism and the need to achieve peace on the basis of two states," he said.

Senior Likud MP Yuval Steinitz recalled Obama's "fruitful" talks with party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, saying relations between the two men would be "excellent".

Netanyahu, widely tipped to emerge as prime minister after February 10 elections, himself spoke positively of Obama and their meeting in Israel last July.

"I took away the impression that Barack Obama understood our distress very well as well as the cruelty of the enemies we face," the former Israeli prime minister said Tuesday.

When Obama visited Israel as a Democratic candidate he offered strong support for the Jewish state and warned that a nuclear armed Iran would be a serious threat to the world.

The new president has pledged to engage immediately on the peace process.

Obama plans this week to name former Northern Ireland peacemaker George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy to deal immediately with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Washington Post reported.

And the US Senate was expected to vote Wednesday on Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state, a post she intends to use to make a new push for Mideast peace.

Mitchell wrote a report into the causes of the second Palestinian uprising or intifada in 2000 for the Bill Clinton administration.

He called for confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians, a return to the negotiating table and a total freeze on Jewish settlement on occupied land, which the right wing Likud totally rejects.

Source: AFP

Other news