The New York Times' Monday editorial slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for announcing his cancellation of talks with U.S. President Barack Obama through the media, calling the move another example of "the disrespect the prime minister has shown Mr. Obama."
The newspaper said it found it "unfortunate that this strange squabble is overshadowing two pressing issues," namely a 10-year defense agreement under negotiation for renewal in 2018, an anchor of Israeli-U.S. ties, and the "slow but inexorable death of the two-state solution" for peace with the Palestinians.
The editorial also accused Netanyahu of doing too little to advance peacemaking. "Mr. Netanyahu has never shown a serious willingness on that front, as is made clear by his expansion of Israeli settlements, which reduce the land available for a Palestinian state."
"The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is a weak and aging leader who has given up on peace," the editorial said.
"In the meantime, vicious attacks by Palestinians on Israelis have surged, and the violence is costing lives on both sides."
After making plans to speak at an AIPAC conference in Washington this month, Netanyahu backed out, and sources at his office said a time to meet with Obama had not been found, which the White House denied.
Later sources in Netanyahu's bureau said he didn't wish to be seen as intervening in a heated primary race ahead of a U.S. presidential election in November, and also cited a continued disagreement with the White House over terms for renewing Washington's annual military aid package to Israel.
Obama and Netanyahu have had thorny relations particularly since Netanyahu spoke before Congress a year ago against a nuclear deal with Iran.
Writing in the The Atlantic magazine last week journalist Jeffrey Goldberg said Obama had recounted details to him of a meeting with Netanyahu a few years ago, in which he said that Netanyahu spoke in an arrogant manner and tried to shift discussion from the peace process to other issues.
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