Israel in Response to Mitchell Loan Guarantee Threat: Blame PA

by Hillel Fendel and Gil Ronen
Israel National News

The Prime Minister’s Office reacted Sunday to an implied threat by U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, regarding American loan guarantees to Israel. Mitchell had said that his country could withhold support on loan guarantees to pressure Israel in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel rebuffed the threat. “It is the Palestinian Authority that refuses to renew the peace process,” a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Bureau stated, “while we have carried out significant steps. It is the PA that must change its ways.”

The special envoy, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, was asked by a TV interviewer on Thursday what types of pressure could be exerted upon Israel to get the diplomatic negotiations underway again. Mitchell said, “Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel,” and added that the previous Bush administration had in fact done so. “But I prefer persuasion to sanctions,” he said afterwards.

The loan guarantees are essentially U.S.-backed loans with favorable interest rates. Many in Israel have long called for Israel to turn down these benefits, in accordance with the Biblical teaching (Proverbs) that one who hates gifts will live, in order to remove this pressure point and enable Israel to be more independent. In July 1996, it was Binyamin Netanyahu himself, Israel’s then-new prime minister, who pledged to begin reducing American economic aid to Israel, while working to make Israel more economically self-sufficient.

Unnamed American officials have been quoted as saying that Mitchell did not mean to threaten Israel, but was merely answering the interviewer’s question.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Bureau said that Mitchell’s statement “does not make sense” and “is not accepted” by Israel, as Israel has taken enough steps to advance the diplomatic process vis-a-vis the PA.

The article continues, with a link to the interview transcript, at Israel National News.

CAJ H/T to blogger Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs who evaluates this issue in great detail in her entry, “Obama Threatens War-like Actions Against Israel…

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