Israel also fears rising attacks on its legitimacy which could bolster boycott movements and potentially turn it into a pariah. It could inspire more mass protests from emboldened Arab neighbors, as seen in the May 15 Nakba demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their supporters to protest the "catastrophe" of Jewish independence 63 years ago.
Netanyahu needs to give Obama alternatives
Mr. Netanyahu is particularly wary about pursuing peace with Mahmoud Abbas when the Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader has just reconciled with the Islamist militant group Hamas. The American president addressed that and other Israeli security concerns, but said peace was more urgent than ever.
"Obama rejected Netanyahu’s claims that the revolutions in the Arab world require a freeze of the peace process until the situation in the region becomes clearer," wrote Aluf Ben, a political commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper. "He made it clear that the world is sick of the unending peace process that leads nowhere."
Obama also suggested that delay could be detrimental to Israel's interests. The vacuum in the peace process provides an opening for initiatives like the Palestinian push for United Nations recognition of their sovereignty, as well as mass protests on Israel’s border with Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank – a sign, perhaps, that the Arab Spring has reinvigorated Palestinian nonviolence.