Netanyahu Leaves for New York to Meet With Abbas, Obama


obama-netanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Barack Obama will meet this week, despite US Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s failure to put together a package that would enable the launching of full-blown negotiations between the sides. In a surprise announcement, the White House said last night that the three would meet on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.The meeting, the first time Netanyahu will meet with Abbas since becoming prime minister in March, will take place immediately after Obama holds separate sessions with Netanyahu and Abbas.

The meeting will take place even though Netanyahu did not announce a total settlement freeze, a condition the Palestinians had set for the talks.

The summit will take place at a particularly important time for Obama, who is keen to go to the UN General Assembly and the G-20 meeting of the heads of the world’s leading economies with an achievement, rather than a stalemate, in the Middle East diplomatic process.

According to these assessments, once Obama invited the parties to talks, neither could refuse.

The meeting was announced a day after Mitchell had held two more rounds of talks with Netanyahu in Yerushalayim, but was unable to close the gaps.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying the meetings “will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and special envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed.”

Netanyahu, originally scheduled to leave for the UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, is now set to go tomorrow afternoon instead. He is scheduled to return on Friday.

Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama will be the first time he will speak to Obama since the prime minister delivered his speech at Bar-Ilan University in June, in which he declared a readiness to accept a Palestinian state if it was demilitarized and did not pose a threat to Israeli security. Netanyahu has, however, met with Mitchell on numerous occasions since then.

{Yair Israel/JPost}