The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has taken issue with the description of the Israeli government offered by President Barack Obama to a Jewish group in which he was reported in the Jewish daily Forward as saying that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu was “extreme right.” According to the report, during a meeting with a delegation of orthodox rabbis from the Orthodox Union, The President described Israels government as having been extreme right and said that Netanyahu, just like any other world leader, does not want any restraints (Nathan Gutman, Obama Gets Copy of Washington Letter, Forward, June 5, 2012).
The ZOA was surprised that, despite past – and recent – concessions by this Israeli Government, including Israels pleading for negotiations; its openly-stated readiness to make new, painful concessions; the broadening of the Government to include the main Opposition, leftwing Kadima Party; and the presence in the Government as Defense Minister of former Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, and now a Deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, both of whom have said that they would unilaterally relinquish 60% of Judea and Samaria to Palestinian control, the President nonetheless described the Israeli government as belonging to the extreme right.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We find it puzzling that President Obama would say that the Israeli government is of the extreme right. There is no factual or analytical basis for it.
First, the Netanyahu government, from its inception in 2009, made it clear that it accepted in-principle the idea of a negotiated Palestinian state. Wise or unwise, such a position cannot be described as of the extreme right.
Second, the Netanyahu government – despite the absence of any Palestinian concession or indication of moderation – agreed to a 10-month freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, a unilateral concession that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself described at the time, correctly, as unprecedented. Indeed, no previous Israeli government had agreed to and implemented such a concession before.
Third, despite the failure of Mahmoud Abbas PA to negotiate virtually at all during the freeze and its failure to negotiate to date, Israel has made it clear that it is willing to negotiate with the PA immediately, without preconditions.
Fourth, it is singularly strange that President Obama would say that the Israeli government is of the extreme right only days after Prime Minister Netanyahu formed a coalition with Shaul Mofazs leftwing opposition Kadima party, which holds 28 seats and which advocates for leftwing policies. The current Israeli government constitutes 94 out of 120 Knesset seats, the second broadest coalition government in the countrys history.