Netanyahu, Obama set March meeting in Washington


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Obama in Washington next month.

Netanyahu confirmed the meeting, to be held during the first week in March, on Monday evening after reports appeared earlier in the day in the Israeli media.

In addition to meeting with Obama during his five days in the United States, Netanyahu will speak at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference. AIPAC confirmed the prime minister’s appearance at the three-day conference beginning March 2.

Netanyahu told reporters at the end of a meeting of his Likud party’s Knesset faction that the trip has four purposes, including discussions on Iran and the current U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Netanyahu also said he will promote Israeli technology during his visit, which could include a trip to California’s Silicon Valley, and attend a screening in Los Angeles of “The Royal Tour,” an international tourism film featuring Israel.

Meanwhile, the While  House responded on Sunday to an Israeli media report that Secretary of State John Kerry requested but did not receive Obama’s approval to confront Israel on its objections to the in-progress framework agreement, which he had hoped to make binding on Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported Sunday night that Kerry sought Obama’s “political backing for confrontation primarily with Israel,” but was rebuffed. The report cited unnamed sources close to the negotiations.

“Any notion that Secretary Kerry failed to obtain the President’s backing for his efforts is totally false,” White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement sent to JTA. ” President Obama remains fully invested in Secretary Kerry’s tireless work on behalf of peace, and those efforts are not focused on confronting the parties — they are aimed at bridging differences and developing a framework for negotiation on the core issues.”

The framework agreement will not be binding on either side, according to the television report, echoing statements in recent days from both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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