Obama, Netanyahu Deny Rift in Relations After White House Meeting
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to warm rocky relations on Tuesday, declaring after a White House meeting that any talk of a rift is unfounded. Obama said the U.S.-Israeli bond is unbreakable.
The president had praise for his guest, hailing as "real progress" Israel's recent decision to ease its three-year blockade of the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. He also said he believes Netanyahu wants peace with the Palestinians and is serious about resuming the face-to-face Middle East peace talks that broke off in December 2008.
For the Israeli leader's part, he pledged "we're committed" to peace with the Palestinians and said any reports of the demise of the U.S.-Israeli relationship are `flat wrong."'
Netanyahu and Obama talked in the Oval Office as protesters gathered across the street in Lafayette Park and chanted "No More Aid, End the Blockade," referring to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was their first since a troubled White House meeting between them in March after Israel's surprise announcement of plans for new construction in east Jerusalem as Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel and preparing for dinner with the prime minister.