Netanyahu enters White House, Tuesday
Photo: AFP
Obama. Not on same wavelength
Photo: AFP
Mitchell. Possible meeting
Photo: AFP

US: PM seeking way out, meets with advisors

Israeli, American teams attempting to conclude Netanyahu's visit to Washington with minimal accomplishment, which would make it possible to launch proximity talks with Palestinians. Prime Minister may meet with US special envoy Mitchell later on

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday afternoon met with his advisors at the Israeli Embassy in Washington in a fervent attempt to reach an understanding with the American administration.


Israeli and American teams have been trying to reach such an understanding throughout the day, in a bid to conclude the prime minister's visit to the United States with a joint message, which would make it possible to launch the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Netanyahu met with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday night without media attendance, and both sides have yet to release a statement on the issues discussed. Official pictures have also not been published.


The mystery surrounding Netanyahu's trip increases in light of the fact that for the past two days the Prime Minister's Office has been unable to provide details about the visit's itinerary, as they have not been briefed about it by the Americans. In diplomatic terms, this is an unusual situation.


The feeling in the White House is that Netanyahu did not deliver on his promises, and that the meeting between the two leaders concluded with a deafening silence and a tense atmosphere.


One of the possible options is that Netanyahu will meet Wednesday with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in an effort to rectify the damage and reach an agreement that will satisfy all sides and allow for the proximity talks to commence.


No honorable reception

The representatives on both sides remained in the White House to continue deliberations even after Netanyahu left Washington, and are proceeding in an effort to reach an agreed formula.


Obama, it seems, was not happy with the measures Netanyahu suggested as part of the trust building steps toward the Palestinians. The understandings reached between the prime minister and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "advised" of what gestures Netanyahu should put on Obama's table, however Netanyahu's remarks ahead of his trip to Washington made clear that the two leaders were not on the same wavelength.


Netanyahu, on his part, said he refuses to release Palestinian prisoners. His remarks about the future building in Jerusalem being the same as the future building in Tel Aviv was not accepted by the Obama administration either. Reports about construction permits for the Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem's Shiekh Jarrah neighborhood only added fuel to the existing fire – and caught Netanyahu in the midst of trying to explain to Obama that Ramat Shlomo was not in the Old City, but part of Jewish neighborhoods that will remain under Israel's jurisdiction in any case.


White House reporters emphasized the fact that the prime minister of a country considered one of the US' closest allies did not receive the honorable reception that is customary during the visit of foreign leaders.


פרסום ראשון: 03.24.10, 17:23
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