Lets keep you abreast of the latest details as Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu visit's America amidst Israel's worst diplomatic crisis with it's main ally since the '70's.
First of all – the speeches at the pro-Israel AIPAC conference.
As I reported yesterday on the Harvest Show, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stayed away from further 'hard-line' statements and while still being blunt yet committed.
She said it was still possible to reach an agreed-upon settlement in Jerusalem. However she criticized Israel for construction in east Jerusalem. She called on Mr. Netanyahu to make tough decisions in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians, while at the same time restating that America is “Eternally committed to Israel's security”. So in a nutshell Clinton expressed friendship but demanded that Israel “make tough decisions” for peace.
As for the Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu likened the Jerusalem construction to that of building in Tel Aviv (there's many who disagree with that analogy) emphasizing that Jerusalem was not a settlement. He also stressed the Jewish historical link to the city – citing his own chosen name in defense of that.
He did win support this on issue of construction in Jerusalem. He claimed construction in Jerusalem does not endanger the peace process, (it seems virtually everyone in the international community disagrees with his view), and called on Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to begin negotiations immediately.
Now Mr. Netanyahu will meet with President Obama this evening – we'll see how that goes, but no one is expecting any different statements from those already made.
Most are saying that these temporary disagreements in US-Israel relations will pass over without any significant harm to Israel or it's plans for construction of 1,600 Jewish apartments in a predominately Arab area. But what it has done is made Israel be careful to take matters seriously as the ground rules for the proximity talks appear to have now shifted. But what Israel wants is a re-anchoring of the all important US-Israel relationship.
Thus, Mr. Netanyahu made sure that nothing happened over here to weaken his ability to heal things – even to the extent that he had celebrations for a new addition to one of Israel's large settlements it ties to Jerusalem cancelled. That was his way of making it clear to the US administration that he does not want to make things more difficult.
I'll have a live update tomorrow on Harvest so tune in then for the latest!
Middle East Correspondent