President Bush met in Jerusalem with Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon’s sons.
Bush, at the height of his Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking mission, made time in his schedule Thursday morning for unscheduled informal talks at his Jerusalem hotel with Knesset opposition leader Netanyahu.
The president met separately with Gilad and Omri Sharon, whose father, the stricken former Israeli prime minister, was a frequent guest at the White House. The meeting with Sharon’s sons was scheduled.
Asked about his time with Bush, Netanyahu later said they discussed issues of pressing concern to Israel, chiefly the Iranian nuclear program.
“Our meeting dealt mostly with the Iranian issue, but also with other matters,” Netanyahu, a former prime minister, told Israel Radio. “I raised my positions and I didn’t feel that we were on different sides.”
Netanyahu also stressed to Bush the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jews, presenting him with an ancient coin embossed with an image of the holy city. Israeli right-wingers are concerned that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, perhaps under U.S. pressure, could yield to Palestinian demands to divide the capital.