Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, visiting the United States, is set to meet Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.
The meeting will be held in the shadow of yet another round of criticism of Israel by Clinton’s boss, U.S. President Barack Obama. The president said that Israeli construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa is “not helpful.”
The remarks ignore the fact that, as Netanyahu himself said in New Orleans earlier this week, the neighborhoods will not come under Arab control in any future peace agreement. He emphasized that Jerusalem is not to be seen as a settlement.
“I believe that we should spend the next year trying to reach a historic agreement for peace,” Netanyahu told the Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly, “and not waste our time arguing about marginal issues that will not affect the peace map in any way.”
Netanyahu also told his New Orleans audience that the international community owes Israel an apology for its acceptance of Hamas propaganda surrounding the battles in Gaza of two years ago. Netanyahu called the United Nations’ Goldstone Report “a modern day blood libel.” The IDF is considering making its findings, repudiating the Goldstone Report, public and Hamas has already admitted, as opposed to Goldstone's findings, that 700 of those killed by Israel were Hamas fighters.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the disagreement over Jerusalem planning and construction is a “temporary matter.” The statement emphasized that in Netanyahu’s contacts with American administration officials, he is focusing on issues that will affect a peace agreement in the long term. Netanyahu said that, given the major security challenges that may be expected in the coming decade, he intends to discuss with Clinton the need to formulate broad Israeli-American understandings regarding Israel's security needs under any peace agreement.
"The chances of achieving a peace agreement will be significantly advanced,” Netanyahu said, “by achieving comprehensive security understandings between Israel and the U.S."
Prime Minister Netanyahu added that he will also raise in his talks with the Secretary of State the importance of extending the circle of peace to additional Arab countries.