After over a year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama are finally meeting face-to-face on November 9, in an attempt to fix their fractured relationship.
Obama said that the two leaders are “looking to find common ground” as they prepare to discuss a wide variety of issues, including ISIS’s rise, the continued tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama and his representatives have said that the Iran nuclear deal is the best way to attempt to hamper Iran’s nuclear program.
“It’s no secret that the prime minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue,” Obama said of the U.S.-supported nuclear deal with Iran and six world powers aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program. Obama added that both he and Netanyahu share a desire to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Before Netanyahu’s arrival in Washington, D.C. U.S. officials made it clear that the White House does not anticipate peace to be achieved before Obama leaves office in January 2017.
Netanyahu has fiercely criticized the Iran nuclear deal as a move that jeopardizes global safety.
“We think this is not only a threat to us. We think this is a threat to you as well,” Netanyahu told NBC News, a day after the nations reached the historic agreement earlier this year. “Iran has killed more Americans than anyone other than al Qaeda.”
On November 9, Netanyahu was publicly reserved in criticism, as he said, “We have not given up hope for peace.” He also emphasized his preference for a two-state solution, but did not give any ground on the Israelis’ long-standing conditions for achieving that solution.
The meeting on November 9 will also be marred by the controversy after Netanyahu appointed a new spokesman who has made scornful remarks about Obama. Ran Baartz, a conservative commentator, has suggested in Facebook posts that Obama is anti-Semitic and that Secretary of State John Kerry cannot be taken seriously.
Despite the low expectations, the fact that Obama and Netanyahu are meeting is considered a step in the right direction. While Obama and Netanyahu have had a chilly relationship for a long time, tensions increased earlier this year during Obama’s pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal.
Earlier on November 9, Israeli Cabinet Member Silvan Shalom, Netanyahu’s designated negotiator with the Palestinians, said that Netanyahu would summarize for Obama a number of confidence-building gestures towards the Palestinians, including lessening restrictions on communication, water usage, work permits in Israel, and Palestinian development in the West Bank.