Middle East
1:23 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Two Talks On The Docket For Netanyahu's White House Visit

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 4:19 pm

Transcript

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President Obama met today in the Oval Office with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At the top of the president's agenda: Getting Israel to accept a framework for peace talks with the Palestinians.

NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: There's a deadline coming at the end of April. That's when the Obama administration has said it wants to have the Israelis and Palestinians sign on to a framework for negotiating a permanent peace deal. With today's meeting, President Obama made his case to Israel's Netanyahu personally.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They are tough negotiations. The issues are profound. Obviously if they were easy, they would have been resolved many years ago. But I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu has approached these negotiations with a level of seriousness and commitment.

KEITH: The president and Netanyahu met in the Oval Office, holding this photo op before they'd had a chance to actually talk to each other. Picture two world leaders sitting in chairs looking at each other and speaking to a mob of reporters. The president said he would use this meeting to press Netanyahu to make the tough decisions needed to move the peace process forward.

OBAMA: It's my belief that ultimately it is still possible to create two states. A Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine in which people are living side-by-side in peace and security. But it's difficult.

KEITH: And, as if to underscore that point, Netanyahu outlined a series of steps Israel has taken to move the process forward, only, he said, to be rewarded with suicide bombers and rockets on Israeli cities.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Israel has been doing its part. And I regret to say that the Palestinians haven't. Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom but it's the truth. And the people of Israel know that it's the truth because they've been living it.

KEITH: Later this month, President Obama is scheduled welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House where he is expected to press again for difficult choices in the name of peace. At today's meeting, Obama and Netanyahu also discussed Syria, counterterrorism, and what Netanyahu described as the greatest challenge: preventing Iran from making nuclear weapons.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.