Obama's Resolve on Mideast Facing a History of Blunt Reality

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Infuriated by pressure from Washington, Israel's prime minister summoned the American ambassador.

"You have no moral right to preach to us," he lectured the envoy."What kind of talk is this, 'punishing Israel'? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic?"

That scolding was 28 years ago, but it echoes as a cautionary tale.

Today, President Obama is pushing a reluctant Israeli government to halt the growth of Jewish settlements and embrace the goal of a Palestinian state. In the 1981 showdown, Prime Minister Menachem Begin held his ground after the Reagan administration suspended a strategic cooperation pact to protest Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights. The territory, captured from Syria in 1967, remains in Israel's hands.

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