Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu landed in the United States early Monday. Netanyahu is set to meet with President Barack Obama later Monday, in a meeting that some commentators said could be the “toughest” the two have ever had.
Speaking on Israel Radio, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, who is in the U.S., said that the Prime Minister was prepared for a frank discussion with the President, but that Netanyahu needed to remain steadfast in his defense of Israel. "We cannot outsource our defense to the U.S. or anyone else," said Bennett. "The only way to peace is through ensuring our security."
Upon landing in Washington, Netanyahu said that he was interested in achieving an agreement with the Palestinian Authority – but that the other side needed to commit to the process as well. "The tango in the Middle East needs at least three,” Netanyahu said. “For years there have been two -- Israel and the U.S. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present. In any case, in order for us to have an agreement, we must uphold our vital interests. I have proven that I do so, in the face of all pressures, and I will continue to do so here as well."
According to reports, Obama plans to “forcefully and directly” press Netanyahu to accept major elements of the negotiation framework Secretary of State John Kerry is developing. According to sources, the framework agreement will state that the capital of the Palestinian state will be eastern Jerusalem, and in exchange, there will be Palestinian concessions in other matters, including borders and refugees. There will be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, according to the reports.
Obama will also press Netanyahu to declare a building freeze in Judea and Samaria, telling him that continued construction would “make it difficult for the U.S. to defend Israel in international forums,” a report on Israel Radio said Monday. Before leaving for the U.S. Sunday night, Netanyahu said that there would be no building freeze.
“I will stand steadfast on the State of Israel's vital interests, especially the security of Israel's citizens,” Netanyahu said. “In recent years the State of Israel has been under various pressures. We have rejected them in the face of the unprecedented storm and unrest in the region and are maintaining stability and security. This is what has been and what will be."