Bibi-Obama in ‘Give and Take’

Obama and Netanyahu met 90 minutes behind closed doors. A Jewish Republican leader called it a snub. A US spokesman said it was “give and take.”

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 7:40 AM

Obama and Netanyahu in 2009 meeting
Obama and Netanyahu in 2009 meeting
Israel news photo: White House

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu twice behind closed doors in the White House Tuesday evening, at virtually the same time Jerusalem announced final approval for another building project in united Jerusalem. (See Daniel Pipes on "When Obama Met Netanyahu.")

It was the second time in less than a month that the Prime Minister met with American leaders at the same time that Israeli officials issued a statement about construction for Jews in parts of Jerusalem that the United States does not recognize as being under Israeli sovereignty. Unlike the previous public anger by American officials, no comments were made about the announcement, nor were substantive reports issued about the subjects that the two leaders discussed.

The meeting also coincided with another spate of Arab stoning attacks on Jews in Judea and Samaria with the intention of causing fatal accidents. Neither the United States nor Israel referred to the continuing attacks, which the Palestinian Authority is committed to halt, along with all other violence and incitement against the Jewish State.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told the media that the meeting involved “give and take” with the intention to encourage talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel on the PA’s conditions for becoming an independent country.

He told reporters, “We’re not putting any preconditions on this. The Israeli government has a policy, but we also have a point of view that Jerusalem is a final status issue.”

Iran presumably was on the discussion agenda, but there was no official confirmation.

Eric Cantor (pictured), the Republican party’s sole Jewish member in the House of Representatives, criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for missing an opportunity to hold a press conference and put an end to the public spat between the two allies. It has escalated since President Obama’s “reaching out to Muslim” speech last June and reached a peak earlier this month when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel at the same time the Jerusalem area planning committee authorized advancement in the lengthy bureaucratic process for 1,600 new residential units for Jews in the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

This time, just as Prime Minister Netanyahu was about to meet the President, Israeli officials announced final authorization for the previously-approved project for 20 housing units at the government owned Shepherd’s Hotel. The site is the former office of HItler's Arab ally, Haj Amin al Husseini.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear during his visit to the United States, highlighted by a speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that the PA “demands for sovereignty over all of what it calls “eastern Jerusalem” are not up for discussion.

The U.S. government, most vocally through U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has demanded that Israel stop all building for Jews in the areas, which also include parts of southern and northern Jerusalem where 300,000 Jews live, almost all of them in totally Jewish neighborhoods.

The outcome of the visit so far is “agreeing to disagree.” Prime Minister Netanyahu has made another concession by agreeing that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority can bring up all issues for discussion, meaning the status of Jerusalem and the Arab demands for the immigration of Arabs claiming ancestry in Israel.

The diplomatic ball now is in the court of the Palestinian Authority, which so far has not yet decided whether to resume American-mediated talks.