I guess there is no escaping it – we gotta talk about yesterdays meeting between American President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lets give you an overview of what the media is saying from here.
There were two big areas that dominated the three hour long meeting; first Iran, second the Peace process with the Palestinians.
Concerning the latter, President Obama emphasized that settlement activity must be stopped. He stated, “We have to move aggressively… to achieve a two-state solution… Settlements have to be stopped…”. Mr. Netanyahu said that “The Palestinians need to govern themselves.” And did not use the term 'Two States' – a disappointment for the American Administration. At the end of the meeting Mr. Obama announced that he will present a new peace plan when he makes his much anticipated speech in Cairo on June 4th.
Concerning Iran, it seems that Mr. Obama has refused Mr. Netanyahu's request concerning Iran to set a deadline on talks about their nuclear aspirations. Of course it is to be said that Obama said that if no progress is achieved by year's end, he will consider imposing tough international sanctions. But the President said “I don't want to set an artificial deadline…We'll probably be able to gauge and do a reassessment by the end of the year of this approach.”
For his part Mr. Netanyahu said regarding Iran: “I hope that Obama's dialogue plan with Iran will succeed. But Israel reserves its right to defend itself… Only the result is important. The President is obligated to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.”
Many here in Israel were keen in watching what President Obama would say regarding Islamic extremists in the region. He said; “…The approach that we've been taking, which is no diplomacy, obviously has not worked… Hamas and Hezbollah have gotten stronger…And so what we're going to do is try something new, which is actually engaging and reaching out to the Iranians”.
Overall, it seems that a decent relationship was created. There was chemistry and this is good news. But Netanyahu left the Oval Office with a clear message from Obama: We must work together opposite Iran and the Palestinians.
So despite the two leaders appearing not to agree on that much, Mr. Netanyahu believes, or at least his aids are spinning, that he got the American President's promise to reconsider negotiations with Iran at year's end.
In the end, I suppose things can be summed up as that there were
agreements, disagreements – and a direction for a new initiative – namely that President Obama will propose regional peace and normalization. Regarding their agreement, Mr. Netanyahu said that “Expanding the circle (of peace partners) is a positive as far as we're concerned, as well as for the Americans.
Regarding the disagreement, Obama stated clearly: Two states for two peoples.
Thanks for checking in – and we'll see you on the Harvest Show!
Middle East Correspondent