Israeli sources reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive a warm welcome from U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington next week. The sources added that Obama is expected to ask Netanyahu to extend the temporary freeze of settlement activities to give the peace talks a chance to advance.
The temporary “freeze” of settlements activities will expire in September, but the claimed freeze does not include settlement construction and expansion in occupied Jerusalem.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that American officials are concerned about the negative impacts of the resumption of settlement activities in the efforts to maintain talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.
While senior U.S. officials are pressuring Abbas to start direct talks with Israel, Obama is expected to ask Netanyahu to extend the freeze of settlement activities.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu called for a meeting of the Israeli septet committee to prepare the agenda for his upcoming visit to Washington, but it is unlikely that four out of the seven ministers will approve an extension to settlement freeze.
The four ministers are Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Yaalon, Elie Yishai and Benny Begin.
U.S. Middle East Envoy, George Mitchell, and his team expressed dissatisfaction over Netanyahu’s slowdown in proximity talks, and suggested that he hold talks with Obama.
Other U.S. officials, mainly Dennis Ross, said that such a meeting should be utilized in regaining trust between the two leaders.
Netanyahu is expected at the White House on Tuesday July 6; he will be holding a two-hour meeting with Obama before the two leaders hold a 30-minute press conference. Later on Tuesday, Obama is expected to host Netanyahu and his entourage for dinner.
The Israeli Prime Minister also intends to hold a separate meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, and United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu will be meeting leaders of the Jewish lobby in New York.