US President Barack Obama (R) next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (file photo)
US President Barack Obama is going to demand a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank during his visit to Israel later this month, a report says.
The World Tribune quoted on Monday an unnamed Israeli official as saying that "Obama has made it clear to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that his visit is not about photo-ops, but the business of Iran and a Palestinian state”.
“The implication is that if Israel won’t give him something he can work with, then he’ll act on his own,” the report quoted the source as saying.
According to the report, an Israeli pullout plan could be part of an imminent US push to form a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014.
The World Tribune report also notes that Obama is making his request for a detailed Israeli withdrawal plan a litmus test of Netanyahu’s leadership and credibility.
Israeli sources said Obama’s demand has sparked concern in the office of the Israeli prime minister.
On March 5, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv
reported that Netanyahu is planning goodwill gestures toward the Palestinian Authority (PA) ahead of US president's visit.
Netanyahu may transfer areas of Area C in the West Bank to the control of the PA, release long-term prisoners and drop a ban on certain weaponry for PA forces.
The Israeli prime minister has been unable to form a coalition over the past four weeks, and received a two-week extension from President Shimon Peres. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu has not even started the feasibility studies about a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank.
More than half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Meanwhile, violent acts are carried out on a weekly basis in the Palestinian territories by Israeli settlers.
The Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because those territories were captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and are thus seen as being subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
The Israeli regime increased its settlement activities after an upgrade in the Palestinian status at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, 2012. The 193-member General Assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state.