US President Barack Obama will reportedly offer to up pressure on Iran in exchange for Israeli concessions toward the Palestinians when he visits Israel next month.
The report, in the London Sunday Times, comes against the backdrop of expectations for a “peace summit” between Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas next month.
According to the British paper, two top Netanyahu aides dispatched to Washington, Yaakov Amidror and Yitzhak Molcho, are laying the groundwork for a Tehran-for-Ramallah deal, which the White House is open to.
As part of the deal, Obama would be asked to ramp up pressure on Iran to pull back from its nuclear program, and in exchange Israel would hold talks with the PA on borders, security and even final status issues such as Jerusalem and settlements.
Last week, Amidror, Netanyahu’s national security adviser, said that settlement building was problematic from an international standpoint, possibly signaling a change in Israeli government thinking ahead of Netanyahu’s next term and Obama’s visit.
On Saturday, outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said he believed Obama would meet with Abbas, Netanyahu and possibly Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jerusalem.
The three last met in Washington in September 2009, leading to a 10-month Israeli moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank, but diplomatic contacts between Jerusalem and Ramallah have been mostly frozen since.
The announcement of the Obama visit has raised hopes for progress on talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The British paper also reported that White House officials were in Israel attempting to consolidate support from Turkey and Jordan for a push to “stabilize the region.”
Obama is also expected to visit Jordan during his trip, which will reportedly begin on March 20.