After White House Meeting, Netanyahu Sticks to Objections to Obama Speech


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held firm in his meeting with President Obama to his reservations to the outlines of peace negotiations that the president laid out in a speech yesterday.

"A peace backed by illusions will crash on the rocks of Middle East reality," Netanyahu told Obama while the two addressed the media in the White House after a meeting on Friday. In his remarks at the White House, Netanyahu reitereated his contention that the 1967 lines were "indefensible" for Israel.

Netanyahu also said that Israel planned to maintain a long-term presence in the Jordan Valley and also insited that it was necessary to recognize that there could nto be any return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.

In a wide-ranging Middle East policy speech on Thursday, Obama had said that Israelis and Palestinians should negotIate borders on the basis of the 1967 lines, with agreed land-swaps. The president also said that the refugee issue was a matter best left for negotiating later.

Obama had also backed key Israeli demands that the Palestinians pull back from seeking international recognition for statehood absent a peace deal, and said that Palestinian leaders must answer for the recent unity pact with Hamas.

At the White House, Obama and Netanyahu acknowledged "differences" but agreed to work closely in coming months on restarting negotiations with the Palestinians.