Obama Awaits Meeting With Israeli Leader

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the podium after speaking about Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas militants, at his offices July 1, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the podium after speaking about Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas militants, at his offices July 1, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. Getty Images

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a one-on-one conversation scheduled in the Oval Office Tuesday, followed by a working lunch with a larger group of American and Israeli officials. On the agenda: Arab-Israeli peace, Gaza and Iran.

President Obama is preparing for a Tuesday White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Plans are for the leaders to meet one on one in the Oval Office before moving on to a working lunch with a larger group of American and Israeli officials.

One goal of the meeting is to get Israelis and Palestinians to agree to talk with each other face to face. Obama and Netanyahu are expected to talk about -- among other things -- Arab-Israeli peace, Gaza and Iran.

So far the parties are only negotiating indirectly through American mediators.

In a White House conference call with reporters, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the indirect talks have been productive, but they're not enough. "It is our strong view that the parties should move to direct negotiations in the near future to address the issues that are being discussed through the proximity channels," Rhodes said.

The White House would not give a timeline for starting direct talks.

Obama also brought up direct talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas when they met at the White House last month.

The last meeting between Obama and Netanyahu, in March, was filled with tension sparked by Jewish settlement policies.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they expect this meeting to be more amicable -- and with any luck, more productive.

Obama is looking for forward motion on peace talks. White House officials say there's been momentum recently that has narrowed the gaps between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Obama is also expected to address the Israeli blockade of Gaza and Iran's nuclear policies.

Analysts, however, foresee no major breakthroughs coming from Tuesday's meeting. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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