Netanyahu to Obama: Arab States Can Have Role in Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process

Netanyahu and Obama now meeting for first time in 7 months; Obama tells Netanyahu: Status quo in Gaza must change.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2014.
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks with Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2014. Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Barack Obama during their White House meeting Wednesday that he wants to integrate Arab states in the peace process with the Palestinians. Obama told Netanyahu that the status quo between the two sides, in Gaza and the West Bank, must change in order to advance peace.

The meeting opened calmly, with both leaders apparently trying to convey positive messages. They thanked each other and lauded the cooperation between the two states.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is no stranger to the White House," Obama said at the start of the meeting, adding that Netanyahu had been there more than any other foreign leader. "We meet at a challenging time," the U.S. president said. "Once again, we reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel and our Iron clad commitment to Israel's security."

Just over an hour was set aside for the meeting between the two – relatively little compared to past meetings. The two leaders were not set to eat lunch together after the meeting, either. Obama's public schedule shows that he is booked for an intimate lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry after Netanyahu leaves the White House.

Senior White House officials said before the meeting that the president is interested in focusing with Netanyahu on the Palestinians. This is despite the fact that Netanyahu declared ahead of the meeting that he wants to focus the talk on Iran. At the start of the meeting, Obama said that the war in Gaza this summer was of great concern to many Americans. He added that the U.S. is proud of the fact it had a part in the developing the Iron Dome missile defense system, that protected many Israelis from rocket fire from the Strip.

"We realize we have to find ways to change the status quo, so that both Israelis feel safe in their homes and also you do not have the tragedy of Palestinian Children being killed as well. We will work on rebuilding Gaza but also finding a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians," Obama said.

The U.S. leader added that he would discuss with Netanyahu Iran's nuclear program, and the progress he claims was made in talks on the sidelines of the UNGA this past week. " We will also discuss the progress we made this week in the attempts to deal with Iran's nuclear program which is a high priority for Israel but also for the U.S. and the world," he said.

When it was Netanyahu's turn to talk he opened by expressing gratitude and platitudes for his U.S. counterpart on American aid with Israeli security and the international struggle against the Islamic State. Netanyahu added that the two states share the goal of preventing "Iran from becoming a military nuclear power." He also warned that Iran wants "to lift the tough sanctions and leave it as a threshold nuclear power."

Netanyahu told Obama at the outset of the meeting that along with these threats there are also opportunities due to the fact that Israel and a number of leading Arab countries have common interests they didn't have before.

"I think we need to seize upon those common interests to advance security and peace in the Middle East," he said.

After he avoided expressing his support for a two-state solution or the establishment of a Palestinian state at his UN General Assembly speech Wednesday, at the meeting with Obama he did just that.

"I remain committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements. We should make use of the new opportunities think outside of the box and see how we can include the Arab countries to advance this very hopeful agenda," Netanyahu said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett quickly lashed out at Netanyahu over his remarks at the White House: "Whoever is committed to fighting the Islamic State and Hamas can't give them a state. The idea of a Palestinian state flew out this summer together with the rockets aimed at Ben Gurion Airport, and it would be best to get that straight, and quickly."

Housing Minister Uri Ariel, a member of Bennett's Habayit Heyehudi party, took issue with Netanyahu's stated commitment to the two state-solution: No official Israeli institution, and certainly not in the government or the Knesset or the Likud, has sanctioned the prime minister's comments on two states for two peoples. This remark does not obligate the State of Israel, and it will never happen."

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott