Netanyahu hopes for Obama meet in November

Israel Materials 24 October 2009 10:58 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Washington next month for a conference of Jewish organizations and hopes to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, an Israeli official said on Friday.

The trip comes as the Obama administration is pressing Israel and the Palestinians to do more to help re-launch long-stalled peace talks after the latest flurry of U.S. diplomacy failed to yield any sign of a breakthrough, Haaretz reported.

It is not certain whether the two leaders will meet, the official from Netanyahu's office said.

Organizers of the annual general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America said both Netanyahu and Obama would participate in the three-day event, beginning Nov. 8.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed Obama this week a less-than-glowing assessment of Middle East peace efforts amid skepticism inside and outside of the region about the prospects for unblocking the peace process.

Obama set Middle East peace as a top priority at the start of his presidency in January, in contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush, who was criticized internationally for neglecting the long-running conflict. But so far the new administration has little to show for its efforts.

Netanyahu, whose right-leaning coalition includes pro-settler parties, has resisted Obama's calls for a total freeze on settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, politically weak because he governs only in the West Bank while Hamas Islamists control the Gaza Strip, has said he will not resume direct talks until a complete settlement freeze is implemented.