Obama. Low on expectations?
Photo: Pete Souza
Netanyahu. Busy schedule
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Palestinian unity among topics on agenda
WASHINGTON – The White House announced Thursday that US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet in Washington on May 20, several days before Netanyahu's scheduled speech in Congress.
The two will meet on a Friday, an unusual day for meetings with the president, which may suggest Obama made an effort to schedule the meeting on what appears to be a busy week. Netanyahu is scheduled to appear before Congress on Monday, May 23 and the following day, while the president is due to leave the States on May 22 for a visit in Europe.
"The leaders look forward to discussing the full range of issues of mutual interest to the United States and Israel," the White House statement said.
This may refer to the UN vote on recognition of a Palestinian state. The US is opposed to a unilateral move and Obama would prefer avoiding it if possible and renewing the peace process.
Another issue which will likely be discussed is the Palestinian reconciliation agreement.
Unlike Israel, the US isn’t fundamentally opposed to a Hamas-Fatah deal but would like to review the specifics of the agreement. The US does not recognize Hamas and is against its presence in a Palestinian government as long as it fails to meet the Quartet demands – recognizing Israel's right to exist and previous agreements and denouncing terror and violence.
President Obama is hoping that Netanyahu will be ready with possible gestures to the Palestinians and will discuss ways to reignite the peace talks. US administration officials said that the US does not have high expectations from the meeting.
The meeting is also a good chance for the prime minister to personally thank Obama for supporting the development of the Iron Dome anti-missile system and the Arrow 3 system.
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