Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Washington Sunday afternoon a day prior to a meeting with US President Barack Obama. The atmosphere among the prime minister's associates was tense on the trans-Atlantic flight.
Although they expect a warm reception, senior Israeli officials have no doubt that the United States intends to press them hard on the topic of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in general and on the issue of settlements, specifically.
"We think that the Israeli stance is clear," said one official from Netanyahu's entourage. "Israel will maintain its demands regarding its identity as a Jewish state, the importance of its security and its fear of having another army to deal with west of Jordan."
He added that "we expect a number of meetings and also expect understanding and agreement on core issues."
Landing in Washington (Photo: GPO)
Netanyahu plans to tell Obama that the primary threat to the two-state solution currently is Iran and suggest a number of solutions meant to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
His solutions are based on the idea of creating American-Israeli teams to address security concerns and draft policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians and Arab nations.
American officials tried to display a softened demeanor ahead of their meeting with Netanyahu. One official stressed that there was no intention of creating hostilities, but that the topic of Israel's commitment to previous agreements and particularly to a settlement freeze would be a primary issue.