Following the Netanyahu-Obama meeting saga and continuing US calls for Obama to abandon the peace process, Israel is trying to convince US President Barack Obama to stay in the game. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, currently in Washington, said during his meeting with his American colleagues that it is critical to get Obama on board and start negotiations.
Barak said that Obama's presidency presents a huge opportunity to achieve peace, saying that peace is better than any other alternative. The defense minister noted that this is the moment of truth for the Palestinian and regional leaders.
According to Barak, Israel is exercising all its might to reignite negotiations. He said that Israel is using all of its power to reach agreements with its neighbors.
Barak will meet with American Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday, along with other US intelligence officials.
The defense minister will also meet with Dennis Ross, special Mideast envoy George Mitchell and other bodies in the government and Congress. He is also slated to speak before a conference of The Jewish Federation.
Head of the Prime Minister's Office's PR branch and Netanyahu's media advisor Nir Hefetz tried to minimize the damages following the late announcement of a meeting between Netanyahu and Obama in Washington.
Hefetz told Ynet, "To say that there was a near-crisis brewing simply isn’t true."
The atmosphere ahead of the meeting, he stressed, "is relaxed. We're gearing for a long political day, which will culminate with a meeting in the oval office."
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report