Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama that he remains committed to the two-state solution and is interested in taking practical steps to calm tensions with the Palestinians in a meeting in Washington today.
According to Ha’aretz, Mr Netanyahu said: "I want to make clear that we haven’t given up on our hope for peace. We will never give up on our hope for peace. I remain committed to the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. I don’t think anybody should doubt Israel's determination to defend itself against terror but also its willingness to make peace with its neighbours."
It has been widely reported that Mr Obama has given up on pushing for a peace deal before his term ends in January 2017.
According to Jonathan Rynhold, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Bar-Ilan University, for Mr Obama, “as far as Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas go it’s ‘a plague on both your houses’.”
Mr Rynhold added: “Obama does not believe that Abbas is willing to take risks for peace. Indeed, there is a fair amount of anger at Abbas for having refused to engage seriously and for walking away from the American framework agreement about a year and a half ago.”
In a short briefing ahead of the meeting at the White house, Mr Obama condemned Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli civilians and stressed that Israel had a right and a duty to protect itself.
"I will discuss with the prime minister his thoughts on how we can lower tensions between Israelis and Palestinians," Obama said, "how we can get back on track towards peace and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process that keeps Israel secure."
Mr Netanyahu made no mention of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, nor did he mention the deep differences between the president and him. For his part, Mr Obama did address the issue, saying that it's "no secret" that Netanyahu and him had "a strong disagreement on this narrow issue."