"Netanyahu’s at a pivotal moment,” said a senior U.S. official. “Depending on what he decides, he could wind up with a very strong relationship with President Obama and potentially become a historic figure in Israel."
“It could very well hinge on what he decides in the next couple of weeks,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Another senior U.S. official held out a similar carrot for Netanyahu: This moment offers the opportunity to “forge a very important and positive relationship between Netanyahu and the president,” the official said.
The “senior U.S. officials” appear to be laying it on a little thick: potential historic greatness and a very strong relationship with Obama—if Netanyahu will just meet Palestinian preconditions for negotiations. Once Netanyahu agrees, he may find he will get repeated opportunities to demonstrate his potential for historic greatness, lest his very strong relationship with Obama prove short-lived.
The US has pressured Netanyahu, only to find him willing to hold his ground.
Instead the White House has seen Obama's polling in Israel drop to 4%.
Perhaps they did not expect Netanyahu's coalition to remain solidly behind him.
All this talk of 'historic greatness' kind of makes you wonder just what Obama's team has been offering Abbas. Sharing in the Nobel Peace Prize? Whatever carrot is being offered to Abbas, he remains sitting on the sidelines demanding a complete freeze to Israeli settlements. With the Fatah Summit behind him, Abbas may have his eyes on something more important than the Nobel Prize.
Politico notes that Obama has something at stake in these talks as well:
[T]he Israeli premier and the American president have gotten off on uncertain footing, with neither proving willing to make early compromises as the other expected. The relationship is important to both leaders’ domestic politics, and now U.S. officials say the settlement negotiations give Netanyahu a way to show he’s committed to the Middle East peace process. [emphasis added]