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Emanuel invites Netanyahu to White House meeting

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rahm Emanuel invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with President Obama and discuss security issues.

Obama "has asked me to extend an invitation to you to come visit him at the White House for a work meeting to discuss both our shared security interests as well as our close cooperation in seeking peace between Israel and its neighbors," the White House chief of staff said Wednesday in a meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The meeting will take place June 1. Netanyahu was scheduled to be in North America next week to meet with Canadian government officials.

The meeting comes after the renewal of proximity talks with Palestinians. Obama’s last meeting with Netanyahu, in March, ended inconclusively. It came amid tensions between the two governments over Israel’s building in eastern Jerusalem.

Since then the White House has endeavored to smooth tensions, maintaining its opposition to settlement building but emphasizing areas where it is working closely with Israel, such as in missile defense.

Emanuel is touring Israel on the occasion of his son’s bar mitzvah. He and his family also will meet this week with President Shimon Peres.

Emanuel says he is enjoying his Israel visit, despite reports that Obama opponents plan to protest the bar mitzvah.

"I want to say that this trip has been a wonderful trip for the entire Emanuel family," he said, "most importantly for me to show my children, given so much as you know of my childhood was here, to show them the country, expose them to the history in a very intimate way and most importantly the most important thing about Israel, to its people, who have been exceptionally warm and genuine."

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