Obama, Netanyahu bid to mend strained ties

US president and Israeli premier have met to discuss
strained ties, with Barrack Obama calling for an end to
Palestinian civilian deaths and Benjamin Netanyahu warning
against leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities.
Obama and Netanyahu privately convened on Wednesday in
the Oval Office, the two leaders’ first meeting since Israel’s
summer assault on beleaguered Gaza.
The 50-day war with Hamas killed more than 2,100
Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, and
more than 70 Israelis of mostly soldiers.
The civilian deaths in Gaza deeply angered US officials,
prompting more biting public condemnations of Israel’s
actions than are typical from the Obama administration.
Talking to reporters before the meeting commenced, Obama
said leaders must “find ways to change the status quo so
that both Israel citizens are safe in their own homes, and
schoolchildren in their schools, from the possibility of rocket
fire but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian
children being killed as well.”
Netanyahu reiterated his scepticism about the diplomatic
process and his fear that Iran will be allowed to keep
aspects of its nuclear programme.
“Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that
you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a
threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu told Obama. “And I
firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen.”
Israel and the US contend that Iran is seeking to build a
bomb. The Islamic republic insists the programme is for
peaceful purposes.
Meanwhile, Palestinians are asking the UN Security Council
to set November 2016 as the deadline for ending the Israeli
occupation, according to a draft resolution obtained by AFP
on Wednesday.
The draft, circulated to council members, follows Palestinian
President Mahmud Abbas’ address last week to the UN
General Assembly in which he called for a fast-track to
The text, put forward by the Arab group, calls for “the full
withdrawal of Israel, the occupying power, from all of the
Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East
Jerusalem, as rapidly as possible and to be fully completed
within a specified timeframe, not to exceed November
It calls for the world body to respect “the independence and
sovereignty of the state of Palestine and the right to self-
determination of the Palestinian people.”
UN diplomats said the draft resolution stood little chance of
being adopted, but the move presents the Security Council
with a challenge on how to advance the Middle East peace
track if the Palestinian demand is rejected.
European countries and the US have steadfastly maintained
that the best path to Palestinian statehood is through direct
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and not by
imposing a deadline.
Abbas told reporters in Ramallah late Tuesday that the
Palestinians risk losing $700 million in annual US aid over
the push for a UN Security Council resolution.
“The Palestinian leadership is coming under heavy pressure
not to go to the Security Council or join international
organisations, and the main pressure relates to aid,” he
“Relations with the US administration are strained… and it is
not in our interest to worsen it. But at the same time, we
cannot go back on our decision.”
Palestinian diplomats said they were aware of US opposition
to setting a deadline, but that they hoped to tap into support
from the broader international community.


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