Obama Snubs Netanyahu at White House

Friday, 26 Mar 2010 10:02 AM

By Dan Weil

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President Obama snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in several ways during his visit to Washington this week.

The White House is upset with Netanyahu’s recent decision to approve Jewish construction in east Jerusalem.

The approval was announced during Vice President Biden’s recent visit to Israel to spark peace negotiations with Palestinians. The Obama administration is miffed by what it sees as Israeli intransigence on this issue.

The White House denied Netanyahu the red carpet treatment generally afforded to visiting heads of state.

The Israeli prime minister and Obama didn’t pose for photos together, and Netanyahu was excluded from dinner with the president Tuesday night.

When Netanyahu wouldn’t agree to concessions, Obama left a meeting with him, though he invited Netanyahu to stay at the White House, talk to Obama advisers and “let me know if there is anything new,” a U.S. congressman who spoke to Netanyahu, told The Times of London.

“It was awful,” the congressman said.

One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages,” conducted in such an adversarial environment that the Israeli delegation eventually left, worried that their White House phone conversations were being bugged.

Another Israeli paper wrote that Netanyahu received “the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea”.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs quibbled with details of the Israeli accounts but didn’t deny that the White House was sending a message to Netanyahu.

That message: his refusal to freeze construction is the biggest obstacle to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians.

While the two countries are trying to overcome the clash, “the writing is on the wall that Obama and Netanyahu are going to clash on the final status (of the Palestinians),” Robert Malley, director of the International Crisis Group’s Middle East program, told The New York Times.

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