US President Barack Obama (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK - The possibility that US President Barack Obama may make a final push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative before he leaves office was the “elephant in the room” during his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday, a senior official from the premier’s entourage told the press.
US officials have maintained for months that Obama has not yet made up his mind whether or not he will deliver a speech before he leaves office on January 20 on what he believes should be the parameters of a future peace deal. He is also apparently undecided on whether the US would support, or veto, a new UN Security Council resolution on the issue.
According to the official, who described the meeting as “positive”, the two leaders discussed the strategic defense and intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel.
The official added that the two nations are “synchronized” on “almost everything,” except for the issue of settlements as an obstacle to the two-state solution, which the official said was “nonsense.”
During their meeting in New York on the sidelines of the annual convening of the United Nations General Assembly, the two leaders also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the crisis in Syria.
The senior official on Netanyahu's delegation added that the collaboration between the two is “very deep” and a “two-way street”.
The official also described the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu as one of “an old couple who are learning to know each other.”
According to the source, there was also no mention of a potential US veto of a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the UN Security Council.
In addition, the official stressed that neither US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, have requested meetings with Netanyahu, but that if they did, he would respond positively.
Wednesday’s encounter was the 17th between the prime minister and Obama since they both came to power in 2009. It was also expected to be their last meeting before Obama steps down from the US presidency.