NEW YORK (AP) — Frustrated after years of fraught diplomacy, President Barack Obama will seek Wednesday to cast the U.S. partnership with Israel as on solid footing, even as he openly weighs using the final stretch of his presidency to ramp up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to finally make peace with the Palestinians.
Obama’s meeting Wednesday with Netanyahu will likely be his last before leaving office, the White House said. For both leaders, it’s a capstone to a relationship that has been testy at best.
Ties between the two leaders never fully recovered after Netanyahu showed up on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress against Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been dismayed by periodic comments by the Israeli leader suggesting he’s less-than-serious about the two-state solution that has been the basis of all serious peace efforts for decades.
“Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” Obama said a day before the meeting in his final U.N. address.