US President George W. Bush decided to meet Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu after initially leaving him out of his itinerary.
After recriminations from Netanyahu associates and claims that Bush was snubbing the former prime minister, US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones called Netanyahu’s office Wednesday to invite him to meet with Bush Thursday morning at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. At their meeting, Netanyahu told Bush, "Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and will remain under Israeli sovereignty for eternity."
The central subject discussed by the two was the Iranian threat. Netanyahu expressed appreciation for Bush's role in defending the free world from radical Islamic terror. Former Netanyahu advisor Michael Freund issued a plea to Bush to take military action against the "Tyrant of Tehran" to stop his atomic pursuit.
The meeting lasted 45 minutes longer than planned. Also participating were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams.
Netanyahu associates initially accused PM Olmert of convincing Bush to snub Netanyahu due to his opposition to the Annapolis Conference. Jones said that the reason Netanyahu was initially left out of Bush’s schedule was purely logistical and due to time constraints, but that it now seems there is time to squeeze him in.
Likud’s ‘Jewish Leadership’ Faction Says Netanyahu ‘Pliable’
Moshe Feiglin, who won second place in the Likud primaries and heads the Jewish Leadership (Manhigut Yehudit) faction within the party, says Netanyahu does not pose a true opposition to the path of Kadima and Ehud Olmert and says it is he Bush should meet with if the US leader wants to hear an alternative vision for Israel's future.
Manhigut Yehudit issued a statement doubting whether Netanyahu qualifies as a representative of the Opposition in that he is likely to follow a similar path as Olmert, should he come to power.
“Mr. Netanyahu is just as pliable as the current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,” the statement read. “If [US] President Bush would actually be willing to follow protocol, he would meet with the real alternative - the only politically viable alternative to Olmert - namely Moshe Feiglin.”
Manhigut officials added that it was ironic that Netanyahu was initially snubbed by Bush since he himself has refused to meet publicly with Feiglin in recent months following Feiglin’s second-place showing in the party’s primaries. “Netanyahu broke his campaign pledge to end the Oslo Accords, gave away Israeli sovereignty over most of Hevron, which resulted in Jewish blood being spilled, released terrorist-murderers, and broke his promise to bring Jonathan Pollard home,” faction officials said. “All of Netanyahu's appeasements were in direct violation of the Official Likud Charter. Israel cannot afford to have another leader like Netanyahu who has no principles, no faith, and no strength to stand up for the best interests of his country.”