Into the lion's den: Netanyahu meets US leaders

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Amid the worst tension between Israel and the US in over 30 years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening addressed the annual AIPAC conference in Washington and strongly reaffirmed Israel's right to all of Jerusalem.

The current row between Netanyahu and the Obama Administration started more than a week ago when Israel announced a new building project in a disputed eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood while US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting.

Washington saw the announcement as an insult, considering that it has backed the Palestinian demand that eastern Jerusalem be surrendered and that Jewish building there come to a halt.

Netanyahu won thunderous applause on Monday when he told AIPAC supporters that the US needs to reevaluate its policies if it wants to successfully oversee a Middle East peace deal.

"Jerusalem is not a settlement," insisted Netanyahu. "Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement."

Netanyahu was more conciliatory earlier in the day when he met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who last week unleashed some of the more hostile rhetoric in response to the Ramat Shlomo building project.

Netanyahu reportedly presented Clinton with a diagram of the long and complicated approval process such building projects go through, and noted that it was merely a coincidence that it was approved while Biden was in town. Unfortunately, the Palestinians and the international media took the opportunity to create a storm out of the incident.

Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday. It was announced that the meeting would take place behind closed doors and be off limits to the media, a clear break from protocol.

Israeli media noted that the decision to not allow the press near the meeting indicated that it would not be a friendly gathering, and that much tension still lingers between the two leaders.

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