WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama was said to have pledged to Saudi Arabia that the United States would force Israel to withdraw from eastern Jerusalem and the entire West Bank by 2012.
Diplomatic sources said Obama relayed a pledge to Saudi King Abdullah that he would take any measure to ensure an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem over the next 18 months. They said Obama relayed the pledge to Abdullah during the president's trip to Riyad in June 2009, about four months after he assumed office, in exchange for Abdullah's help to arrange for the end of the Taliban war in Afghanistan.
“Obama believes the Saudis are the most important element in his strategy to withdraw from Afghanistan,” a diplomatic source familiar with the Obama-Abdullah talks, said. “Abdullah said he was ready to talk to Taliban, but asked for a clear and definitive promise to deliver Israel.”
“This is a very important visit [by Abdullah],” U.S. ambassador to Riyad, James Smith, said.
The sources said Abdullah has demanded U.S. guarantees that Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and most of Jerusalem by 2012. They said the Saudi king also expressed opposition to U.S. arms sales to Israel and Washington's boycott of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.
Since the Obama pledge, the sources said, the White House has rejected virtually every Israeli request for U.S. weapons platforms. They said Obama also delayed decisions by the former administration of President George Bush to deliver attack helicopters, air transports, bunker-buster air bombs and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles to the Jewish state.
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