The American and Israeli leaders have had their first chance to share, face-to-face, their visions for a peaceful Middle East. Barack Obama repeated his support for a separate Palestinian state. Benjamin Netanyahu talked instead of self-government for Palestinians.
“If…the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish State, if they fight terror, if they educate their children for peace and for a better future, then I think we can come (to) a substantive solution that allows the two peoples to live side by side in security and peace,” Netanyahu said.
One of several issues dividing the two leaders is that of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. So far Netanyahu has resisted calls to freeze settlement expansion.
The President said: “Under the road map and under Annapolis, there is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements. Settlements have to be stopped in oder for us to move forward. That’s a difficult issue, I recognise that.”
Iran is another area where Washington’s talk of diplomatic engagement is at odds with Israel’s calls for swift, tough action. The topic is likely to be brought up when Netanyahu meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates before returning on Tuesday evening.