In exchange for Mr Obama's endorsement of the promise, Mr Netanyahu might be willing to reimpose a short-term settlement freeze, arguing to his ministers that soon it would no longer apply to most of the settlements.
Ari Shavit, a columnist with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, argued last week that arm-twisting the White House to honour Mr Bush's commitment was "a win-win formula" for Mr Netanyahu.
Either Washington would be committed to Israel's key demands in the talks or "US credibility" would be damaged. "Instead of Netanyahu being the dissenter, Obama will be the dissenter," he wrote.
Mr Netanyahu, however, is stuck unless he can overcome opposition to a deal on a settlement freeze within his own cabinet, led by Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right foreign minister.
According to senior officials in the Labor Party, ostensibly the most dovish of Mr Netanyahu's coalition partners, that explains the timing of his move to placate Mr Lieberman by backing a loyalty oath for non-Jews applying for citizenship.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (http://www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
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