Bibi Meets With Obama, Congressional Leadership

By Natasha Mozgovaya (Haaretz) and News Agencies

Published March 23, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. President Barack Obama held a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday as Israel sought to smooth over a diplomatic spat sparked by the announcement of Israeli construction in East Jerusalem.

Efforts to restore ties may have hit a roadblock, however, with the approval Tuesday of a further 20 East Jerusalem homes beyond the Green Line at the site of the former Shepherd Hotel.

The two leaders met for around 90 minutes. The White House had no immediate comment on what they discussed. Netanyahu did not leave the White House for another two hours after his formal talks with Obama, but what he was doing during that time was not immediately clear.

In spite of attempts on both the Israeli and American sides to bring the crisis to an end, there is still lingering tension and lack of trust within the Obama administration toward Netanyahu.

An American source close to the administration said that Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have decided to “test” Netanyahu and see whether he will carry out his promised gestures of good will toward the Palestinians.

According to an Israeli source who has discussed the matter with senior U.S. officials, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the president are dissatisfied with a letter given to them by Netanyahu, in which he detailed steps he is willing to take to restore American confidence in his government.

The prime minister and his aides said that a meeting with Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, which served as a preamble to the meeting with Obama, was conducted in excellent spirits.

Israel had angered Biden by announcing plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem during his visit to the country two weeks ago.

An Israeli source noted that both Biden and Clinton used strong language and made it clear to Netanyahu that he would need to make further concessions to American demands in their meeting if trust is to be restored.

The same source said that the Americans are convinced that the answers Netanyahu had given them are insufficient.

Washington officials have also been irritated by Netanyahu’s attempts to draw equivalency between building inside Israel’s internationally recognized borders and in east Jerusalem.

“I think at one point the prime minister added that he did not see a distinction necessarily between building in Jerusalem and building in Tel Aviv. We disagree with that,” a White House spokesman said ahead of the meeting.

In a sign of White House concerns about lingering tensions, press coverage of the Oval Office talks was barred and no public statements were planned.

Before seeing Obama, Netanyahu told U.S. lawmakers he feared peace talks may be delayed for another year unless Palestinians drop their demand for a full freeze on Jewish building beyond the Green Line, including in east Jerusalem.

“We must not be trapped by an illogical and unreasonable demand,” Netanyahu said during his meeting with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders, according to his spokesman.

“It could put the peace negotiations on hold for another year,” he said of the talks, suspended since December 2008.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.