Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu was expected to receive an invitation Wednesday to visit
Washington next week, press reports said, ahead of talks in
Jerusalem with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
The invitation, to be handed over by Emanuel who is on a
private visit to Israel, is expected to propose a meeting with
US President Barack Obama.
"Netanyahu and Rahm Emanuel will meet on Wednesday at
5:00 pm (local time) at the prime minister`s office in
Jerusalem," a statement from the premier`s office said.
The two men will hold an "informal discussion" about a
broad range of US-Israeli issues, a White House spokesman has
Tomorrow, Netanyahu is to leave for France, where he will
formally accept an invitation for Israel to join the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a
Paris-based group of 30 developed world nations, before
heading to Canada.
The Washington leg is likely to be tacked onto the end of
The offer to meet Obama is widely viewed as a US attempt
to mend ties with Israel following an ugly spat over Jewish
settlement activity in Jerusalem which erupted in March.
"In the course of the meeting, he (Emanuel) is expected
to invite Netanyahu for a meeting with the US president in
Washington at the beginning of next week, after the Israeli
prime minister`s visit to Canada," the mass-selling Yediot
Aharonot daily said.
"The invitation is supposed to signal that the White
House and Obama are interested in turning over a new leaf in
their relations with Israel," the paper added.
The visit will come ahead of a similar trip by
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who is expected to meet Obama
at some point in June, although a date has yet to be set.
Quoting unnamed Israeli officials, the Haaretz daily said
Obama wanted to meet Netanyahu before Abbas to head off
criticism from congressmen and US Jewish leaders.
"The White House feared the upcoming meeting with Abbas
-- meant to show Obama`s support for the Palestinian leader --
would draw unfavourable comparisons with the disastrous March
meeting with Netanyahu, thereby deepening the crisis with
Israel -- and sparking more criticism of Obama`s Israel
policy," the paper said.