Obama and Netanyahu to meet


JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday night.

Until Sunday, it had not been clear whether Obama would meet Netanyahu, who will be in Washington this week for the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Netanyahu’s visit comes at the heels of two weeks of tension between the United States and Israel over Israel’s announcement of plans for 1,600 new housing units in a Jewish neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel.

Following the announcement, U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell delayed a planned trip to Israel.

The two sides dialed down the tensions last week amid a flurry of phone calls, and Mitchell came to Israel this week and conveyed the White House invitation to Netanyahu on Sunday, according to a spokesman for the prime minister. 

During his visit to Washington, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

On Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated to his Cabinet that Israel would continue to build in eastern Jerusalem. "Construction in Jerusalem is like construction in Tel Aviv," Netanyahu said, noting that his government’s policy on Jerusalem construction follows that of all Israeli governments since 1967. That is something "we have made very clear to the American administration," he said.

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