White House 'surprised' Netanyahu declined Obama invite

US President Barack Obama is weighing up options to make progress on the Middle East peace process before he leaves office, the Wall Street Journal reports, including the possibility of backing a UN Security Council resolution to further talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The WSJ cites senior American officials who indicated that internal discussions were ongoing that seek to map out any future talks between the two sides.

That the US is considering supporting a UN Security Council resolution is in sharp contrast to the White House's longstanding policy of vetoing resolutions that sought to bring both sides to accepting compromises.

In one possible plan floated by the discussion, the US would pressurize Israel into halting settlement-building in the West Bank and at the same time demand that the Israelis recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians would then be asked to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and give up on the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the WSJ says.

The revelations come amid ongoing confusion and recriminations over a planned trip by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the US this month that he canceled on Monday. The US and Israel have given conflicting accounts of what led to the cancelation.

The episode was just the latest sign of frosty relations between the two leaders on the eve of US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel.

An Obama aide said on Monday the Israeli government had requested a meeting to take place on March 17 or 18, and the White House had responded selecting the latter date two weeks ago.

"We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting, and we were surprised to first learn via media reports that the prime minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit," said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

"Reports that we were not able to accommodate the prime minister's schedule are false."

Israel and the United States have been seeking to move past deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear accord, which Netanyahu strongly opposed, and work out a new 10-year defense aid package.

US President Barack Obama (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are known to have frosty relations ( Saul Loeb (AFP/File) )

The current deal grants Israel some $3.1 billion annually, in addition to spending on other projects such as missile defense.

Netanyahu's visit in Washington would have coincided with the annual conference of pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC in which he has previously participated.

Biden's trip, due to begin Tuesday, comes amid a five-month wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories that has killed 181 Palestinians and 28 Israelis.

The White House said on Friday that Biden would not be pursuing any major new peace initiatives during his visit.

Obama has acknowledged that there will be no comprehensive agreement between Israelis and Palestinians before he leaves office in January 2017.

His administration's tough criticism of Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank has added to tensions between the two longstanding allies.

In recent months, however, the US and Israel had sought to reaffirm the strength of their ties.


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  • Michael Farmer
    March 08th 2016 - 04:12pm

    If the US has any respect for international laws and conventions it must cease to appease Israel in its criminality and NOT veto UN resolutions seeking to have Israel civilise!

  • Ken Little
    March 08th 2016 - 02:12pm

    Understand the reason the world hasn't heard much from Obama since the 'Iran Deal' is because of the political maelstrom he unleashed and the HUGE AMOUNT of negative backlash among the American people that has basically gone unpublicized. Why else do you think he's kept his head down and made VERY FEW public statements (even after Senate Republicans told him in advance "don't bother nominating a Supreme Court Justice because we will never put it to a vote". ... Simple, he KNOWS he can't win and frankly he has done so much damage prior to this election cycle it's finally sinking in how much damage the majority of the country is holding him personally and the Democratic party responsible for.

    Israeli media has called the Republican selection process a 'circus' because I don't think they understand the term 'fire sale'. That's when goods are sold for a fraction of what they are worth. The frenzy on the Republican side is because: Obama can't run again (and would fail miserably if he did); Kerry can't run because he's tainted by the Iran Deal; Hillary wasn't in office for that but her own gross mishandling of classified information has EVERY American waiting for an announcement (If she's indicted she has little hope of winning the election); Biden is too befuddled to hold the office and he couldn't possibly win so that leaves us with a Socialist Bernie Sanders and the USA is not ready for a Socialist President.

  • Ken Little
    March 08th 2016 - 01:52pm

    It's a shame i24 deleted their opinion pages when they updated their website. I said it a year ago http://www.i24news.tv/en/opinion/59989-150204-obama-s-interference-in-israel-s-elections-may-backfire and I'll say it again.

    When Obama's former campaign manager went to work for Mr. Herzog, and the State Department gave an ILLEGAL $350,000 'grant' to OneVoice to try and unseat the PM then gave the farcical excuse that he (Obama) wouldn't meet with Netanyahu 'to avoid the appearance of influencing the election' THEN AT THE SAME TIME to add insult to injury tweedledum and tweedledee (kerry and biden) met with members of the Herzog campaign in Munich.

    Now Obama is 'surprised' that Netanyahu throws the same excuse back in his face? I think Netanyahu has chosen well. Obama doesn't decide the US budget, the House of Representatives does that. There is NO WAY he can remove the money pledged to Israel after the CATASTROPHIC mismanagement of the 'Iran Deal'. He can't veto the budget because House Republicans will completely defund the genocide by Planned Parenthood AND Obamacare too.

    If he thinks he can support a UN resolution forcing Israel to capitulate to his wishes, I think he is well aware that would be the equivalent of setting off a nuclear bomb inside the Democratic National Headquarters.

    As I said this time last year EVERYTHING he has done will be UNdone by his predacessor. Hillary's staff will be endited. Hillary herself will need a Presidential Pardon to stay out of jail after Bryan Pagliano has been granted immunity. You have to understand that ONLY a Federal Judge can grant immunity; and you wouldn't go before a judge to REQUEST immunity unless a Grand Jury has been conveined for the purpose of presenting evidence (to them).

    Netanyahu is in the drivers seat and he's doing EXACTLY what I suggested almost a year ago (wait until this LAME DUCK is GONE).

  • Michael Farmer
    March 08th 2016 - 10:41am

    There is no such place as Israel. Where are its borders?

  • James Spackman
    March 08th 2016 - 07:05am

    Maybe BIBI just does not want to sit and talk to a lying muslim.I personally would not sit down and talk to a lying muslim, who has just given my biggest enemy permission to build atomic warheads, after that enemy (Iran) has promised on dozens of occasions to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

    Biden's trip, due to begin Tuesday, comes amid a five-month wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories that has killed 181 Palestinians and 28 Israelis.????????
    There is no such thing or places as "PALESTINIAN" territories! who is the leader of this mythical place,,what is its monetary system, where are the defined borders...?? answers on a postcard please!!