Obama, Netanyahu Meet: Israel-USA meeting on Mideast
Obama, Netanyahu Meet: No Cameras, No joint statement, Results Unclear
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday to discuss Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East - at least that is what reports say the Israel-U.S. meeting was about. Government officials are being unusually tight lipped about the subject and the outcome of the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, would say only that Mr Obama had asked Mr Netanyahu for confidence-building gestures and “clarification” of his position on settlements. He described the talks as “honest and straightforward”.
Relations between the United States and Israel are currently strained. The issue: the United States opposition to further construction of Israeli homes and settlements in East Jerusalem. Israel announced further construction in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden to Israel 2 weeks ago - considered a diplomatic slap in the face to the United States. Netanyahu while saying the announcement was a poorly timed bureaucratic snafu.
Netanyahu, who heads a coalition that contains pro-settler parties, including his own, said he was blindsided by bureaucrats. But he also made clear he had no intention of curbing Jewish construction anywhere in a holy city Israel claims as its capital.
Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they hope to establish in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have called Netanyahu and his settlement policy obstacles to peace.
Netanyahu in this recent visit to Washington reaffirmed his commitment to expanding the settlements and the only thing coming out his meeting with President Obama is speculation.
On Tuesday, the two leaders met for one 90 minute meeting, with a short break and then a second meeting which lasted more than 30 minutes.
Netanyahu has lingered in Washington with an unusually quiet schedule, and his departure time is said to be up in the air. Israeli officials say he is huddled with his advisors.
Both sides are staying tight-lipped about last night's mysterious meetings between Obama and Netanyahu at the White House. The meetings were completely closed to the press – no reporters allowed and no photos released by the White House.