If, as widely expected, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu forms the next government following the January 22 elections, the first meeting of his second term with US President Barack Obama is expected to take place in Washington in early March.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has invited Netanyahu to address its annual policy conference in Washington, which will be held on March 3-5. Once there, it is widely expected that Netanyahu will meet with Obama, who will also just be embarking on his second term.

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The last meeting between the two leaders took place last March in Washington, also when Netanyahu went to the US capital to address AIPAC. The two did not meet in September, when Netanyahu was in the US to address the UN General Assembly.

Even though the possible meeting is some two months off and as yet unconfirmed, messages have been passing between Jerusalem and Washington in recent weeks regarding the likely meeting and ways to set a more positive tone in the relationship at the outset of both leaders’ new terms.

The first meeting between the two men in the White House in May 2009, when Obama surprised Netanyahu with a call for a settlement freeze, is widely regarded as having started the relationship off on the wrong foot, and officials on both sides have articulated interest in ensuring that the first meeting of the second term starts off on a better note.

Netanyahu met with Obama eight times in the US during his first term in office.

The Obama-Netanyahu meeting is likely to come amid a concerted European effort to push the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process forward.
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