Netanyahu. Preparing
Photo: AFP

Israel braces for Obama meeting

As Netanyahu heads off to US for meeting with president, Jerusalem attempts to clear path for direct talks with Palestinians by sending officials to Cairo, composing shorter black list of goods not allowed into Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama Tuesday, and Jerusalem is making every effort to prevent embarrassments such as those that occurred during his previous visit to the White House.


Two of Netanyahu's aides have recently returned from Cairo, and his office is making an effort to show good will by establishing a shortened "black list" of items that will not be allowed into Gaza as part of the easing of restrictions on the Strip.


The items list includes everything Israel has defined as "weapons" or "combat equipment". It is set to be presented to the Foreign Ministry Monday just hours before Netanyahu's trip.


In addition, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and sources say he may present him with the list as well.


Israeli officials believe the main issue Netanyahu will discuss with Obama is the decision to move forward to direct talks with the Palestinians. After 15 months of publicized disagreement, many believe the US president will attempt to make peace with Netanyahu.


"The US is demanding of Israel the prevention of embarrassment, such as construction in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, once the direct talks begin," Israeli diplomats said. "This is despite the fact that Obama knows Abu Mazen was dragged into these talks against his will."


A Labor minister said the issue of West Bank construction was also sure to come up, if not during this meeting then certainly during the next. "It's true the Palestinians haven't done enough, but we can't have the bulldozers coming in during the talks," he said.


A Foreign Ministry source said Obama was eager to spur the direct talks, and that he expects Netanyahu to make moves in which a majority is guaranteed, such as in the government or the Knesset.


Obama is also expected to discuss with Netanyahu the easement of restrictions on Gaza as well as the coordination of talks between Israel and the Palestinians with Egypt and the EU. Their meeting will also deal with Iran and the new sanctions imposed by the US.


פרסום ראשון: 07.05.10, 00:53
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