After almost a month of near-silence between them, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday morning at the president's official residence in Jerusalem.
The one-on-one meeting was an effort to mend the rift between the two, which erupted after Peres told television interviewers last month that Israel must not attack Iranian nuclear installations without prior coordination with the United States.
"It's clear to us that we can't do this alone," Peres said in the interviews on August 16. "We can only postpone [Iran's nuclear project]. Therefore, it's clear to us that we have to go together with America."
Netanyahu and his advisers were incensed by Peres' statements and went on a no-holds-barred attack on the president, which more than anything else indicated that they had lost their cool. "Peres forgot what he's supposed to do as president," Netanyahu's advisers told the media at the time. "It's the same Peres who thought that after the Oslo Accords there would be a new Middle East. In practice, we got more than 1,000 dead Israelis in terrorist attacks, which came out of the areas he handed to the Palestinians."
In the last four weeks, Peres and Netanyahu neither met face-to-face nor spoke on the phone. Similarly, Netanyahu's advisers also severed almost all ties with Peres' advisers, apparently at the direct behest of Netanyahu. Until a month ago, Peres and Netanyahu had been getting together at least once a week, and sometimes twice, for breakfast or dinner. The prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, would sometimes be invited to these dinners. In addition, Peres and Netanyahu maintained ongoing phone contact and updated one another about political meetings.
It is unclear how Peres and Netanyahu agreed to manage their disagreement on Iran and restore proper working relations. A short time after yesterday's meeting, Peres held a reception for the foreign diplomatic corps in Israel and praised U.S. President Barack Obama's policy on Iran.
In his address to the foreign ambassadors, Peres stressed that he "very much respects the position of the United States, which leads the coalition and has decided to increase its military presence in the Persian Gulf."
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