Washington was waiting for Netanyahu covered with some 20 centimeters of snow (that's what the weather forecasters promised), President Obama is preoccupied exclusively with the crisis with Russia, which is threatening to renew the Cold War, and Putin's military forces in the Crimea peninsula are keeping the American discourse busy more than any Kerry plan.
At this time, in the White House, the Middle East seems more loathsome and less promising than ever. Netanyahu was a guest arriving at the wrong time.
Recently the president's advisors looked into the slightly optimistic news they received from Secretary of State Kerry's inner circle, that Netanyahu has changed and that his body of refusal has generated the spirit of a strong leader ready to go towards a peace agreement.
The president's people, whose job is to raise doubts, asked why Netanyahu wasn't preparing the public opinion in Israel for painful concessions and wasn't engaging in any internal political work if he really wanted to make history.
They noted that there was no sign of any preparation work, as would be expected from someone about to make a far-reaching move.
The majority in the White House is convinced that there is nothing new under the sun. White House officials estimate that this time too, Netanyahu arrived with a suitcase filled with empty promises. They are very familiar with this ritual. They haven’t found any signs indicating that Israel's prime minister has changed and that he really intends to make a move this time, and not just to mock and play for time.
On Monday, Obama will give the last chance before pulling the curtains over the window of opportunities created: He will respect Netanyahu but suspect him, push him against the wall so that he accepts the framework agreement Kerry is expected to bring. It will be Obama's last attempt: If an agreement isn't reached this time, there will be no other opportunity, certainly not during his term. He will make it clear to Netanyahu that he is willing to get personally involved, but only if there is really someone to run with. If this is a futile move, he will help from behind and from afar.
The prime minister was greeted at the White House with smiles and polite words. That's how the official Washington treats its guests. But unlike the previous times, this time Obama will try to examine whether there is a real intention hiding behind Netanyahu's fancy words. If Netanyahu is wearing a mask, this time Obama intends to tear it off his face.