Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Despite cold shoulder and humiliation - PM Netanyahu offers Obama additional gestures to get Abbas on board in peace talks

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed additional Israeli gestures to the Palestinian Authority during his White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama Monday night, in an effort to persuade PA President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to resume talks with Israel.

An Israeli source who was briefed on the meeting said Netanyahu had stressed to Obama that his oft-stated desire to advance the peace process was sincere, not just lip service.

The road to arranging the meeting was rocky and humiliating for Netanyahu, and it seems the Americans tried to give it the lowest possible diplomatic and media profile even after agreeing to hold it. Afterward, the White House issued a laconic statement that did not even describe the meeting as "positive" or "good."

Moreover, no photographs of the two men together have been released. The video photographer for the Israel Government Press Office was not allowed to enter the meeting room, and the stills photographer was allowed to enter but not publish the pictures he took.

In addition, the meeting took place late at night, and Netanyahu arrived in an ordinary van rather than the state limousine in which guests are usually brought to the White House for meetings with the president.

A source in Netanyahu's entourage said a large part of the meeting, including the time the two leaders spent together privately, was devoted to Netanyahu's efforts to persuade Obama that he was serious about wanting to advance the peace process and reach an agreement on establishing a Palestinian state.

The source said Netanyahu wants to "turn over a new leaf" with Obama. "There's a feeling that a new channel has been opened with the president that wasn't there before," he added.