Obama, Netanyahu To Try To Patch Up Relations
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Mary Louise Kelly.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Before Benjamin Netanyahu left Israel, his government eased but did not lift its blockade of Gaza. Now most consumers goods will be allowed into Gaza, though Israel will maintain restrictions on those things it says can help militants, as well as civilians, like construction materials.
LOUISE KELLY: And as NPR's Jackie Northam reports, today's meeting may be as much about building their relationship, as it is about Middle East peace.
JACKIE NORTHAM: Aaron David Miller with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says that amicable tone will be tested when it comes to the issue of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
AARON DAVID MILLER: Clearly in the Arab-Israeli issue there's a divergence between what the president expects - because he's set his expectations very high and he seized on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and he isn't going to give up - and what Netanyahu can deliver, as a consequence of his coalition constraints and also as a consequence of his ideology.
NORTHAM: The proximity talks are seen as a stepping stone to direct talks. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley says the U.S. continues to encourage both sides to demonstrate that they will make the move towards direct negotiations.
PJ CROWLEY: Our role is to try to help each understand what the other feels it needs, and to try to move them to a point where we think direct negotiations are possible. We're not there yet.
NORTHAM: Danin says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to get as much specificity laid out in the proximity negotiations before he holds direct talks with the Israelis.
ROBERT DANIN: His theory is that going into direct negotiations without any sense of what the endgame is, without any sense of closure or a deadline, will just allow for open-ended negotiations that go nowhere, that deplete his political capital, but allows Prime Minister Netanyahu to claim he's negotiating with Palestinians and just have this strong out.
NORTHAM: Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., says Israel wants to move quickly to face-to-face negotiations.
MICHAEL OREN: The issue of moving from proximity talks to direct talks will certainly be discussed between the two leaders. And they will exchange views on how we can expedite this process, and how we can move into these direct negotiations and then advance swiftly to an actual peace agreement.
NORTHAM: Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.