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Barack Obama to host Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at White House

President Barack Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 9, the White House confirmed on Wednesday, announcing their first meeting since a row over the Iranian nuclear deal.

world Updated: Sep 17, 2015 10:25 IST
US President Barack Obama
US-President-Barack-Obama-and-Israeli-PM-Benjamin-Netanyahu-at-Ben-Gurion-International-Airport-in-Tel-Aviv-Reuters-File-Photo

US President Barack Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on November 9, the White House confirmed on Wednesday, announcing their first meeting since a row over the Iranian nuclear deal.

US-Israeli relations are at one of their lowest points in decades, fueled by animosity between Obama and Netanyahu.

"Prime minister Netanyahu's visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The US administration indicated that Obama would seek to move beyond tensions caused by Netanyahu's strident opposition to the deal and focus on getting Israel's support for its implementation.

"The president looks forward to discussing with the prime minister regional security issues, including implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," said Earnest, using the accord's formal title.

Israel could prove to be a help or hindrance to Obama in keeping the deal on track, ratcheting up domestic pressure on the White House should Iran stall or falter on implementation.

The deal would see Iran curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. But the Netanyahu-Obama meeting will also be about mending fences.

After years of frosty relations, Netanyahu stridently opposed a deal championed by Obama as the best way of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

The Israeli prime minister described the accord, an important piece of Obama's foreign policy legacy, as a "stunning, historic mistake."

The White House regarded Netanyahu's appearance before a joint session of Congress in April -- to call directly on US lawmakers to scupper the deal -- as an affront.
Obama had pointedly refused to meet Netanyahu when he was in Washington to make the address.

The two men clashed again during Netanyahu's re-election campaign, when he rejected a two-state solution, an issue sure to come up in the talks.

With the peace process in deep freeze there are growing fears that tensions like those flaring at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound could spark a broader Palestinian uprising.

"The president also looks forward to discussing Israel's relations with the Palestinians, the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the need for the genuine advancement of a two-state solution," Earnest said.

Security ties between the United States and Israel will also be on the agenda.

The White House has floated the idea of a deeper security compact with Israel, but has said the offer has not yet been taken up.

"The president has indicated on a number of occasions his desire to begin consultations with our Israeli allies about how to further deepen that cooperation," Earnest said earlier this month.