Netanyahu to meet Obama at White House

By Jennifer Lipman, July 6, 2010
Obama and Netanyahu at a previous meeting

Obama and Netanyahu at a previous meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set off for Washington to meet President Obama for what some have described as a “make-up visit”.

They are expected to discuss whether direct peace-talks between Israel and the Palestinians can be restarted, something Mr Netanyahu supports and Mr Obama sees as crucial to a two-state solution.

Mr Netanyahu recently said he was ready to meet the Palestinian President “today and tomorrow and the next day at any place.”

Palestinian leaders have so far rejected calls to start face-to-face negotiations.

The Iranian nuclear programme is also likely to be on the agenda, and Mr Obama is expected to press for Israel to further relax the blockade of Gaza.

The meeting was originally set for June 1 but was postponed in the wake of the clash on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

But with mid-term elections looming, the president is expected to offer a warmer welcome than March's shaky meeting, when they disagreed over settlement construction plans.

fter talks in the Oval Office the pair will hold a press conference and a White House lunch, where Mr Netanyahu’s wife Sara will meet Michelle Obama.

Mr Netanyahu is also scheduled to visit New York to meet Jewish leaders.

It is his fifth visit to Washington since Mr Obama became president.

The meeting follows one between Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak.

Last updated: 9:13am, July 6 2010