President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu Meet in the White House

Netanyahu-Obama-March-2012-largeProspects for the success of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were downplayed by Prime Minister Netanyahu at his photo-op with President Obama following their meeting today. Here is what Netanyahu had to say about efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians:

  • “Twenty years of peace process were marked by many Israeli steps for peace but we got suicide bombers and rockets in return.”
  • “It’s about time the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state – we have only been there for 4,000 years.”
  • “The people of Israel expect me to stand strong against pressure and for the security of Israel.”

Both President Obama, in a carefully-timed interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffery Goldberg, and Secretary of State John Kerry, are reminding Netanyahu in Washington that time is running out, and that he will soon have to make some hard decisions. April 29th is the expiration date of the nine-month period that the Obama administration has allotted for the peace talks to produce an agreement. Sometime before the end of April, the administration is expected to issue its set of principles – the co-called “framework” – for a future agreement.

President Obama, at White House photo-op, twice said that he would like to commend Netanyahu for the way in which he is conducting the negotiations with the Palestinians, “with a level of seriousness and commitment.” An Israel Radio analyst today commented that Obama’s remarks sounded more like a wish than like a sincere assessment of Netanyahu’s real attitude.

One can only hope that inside the Oval Office, and in his earlier meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu was more forthcoming and cooperative.