Still no meeting set for PM with Obama

As Netanyahu heads to UJ

November 6, 2009 01:18
2 minute read.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu leaves on Sunday morning for Washington, where he is to address the 2009 General Assembly of the UJC/Jewish Federations of North America the next day. As of press time, the Prime Minister's Office said no formal meeting had been scheduled with US President Barack Obama during the visit, which could last through the week. No departure date has been set. Netanyahu and Obama last met in New York in September on the sidelines of the opening of the United Nation's General Assembly session. Obama plans to speak at the UJC event on Tuesday, in what will be his first speech to a Jewish audience at a public event since his election a year ago. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Jerusalem Post that nothing had been planned in terms of a Netanyahu-Obama sit-down while the prime minister is in town. "There is no scheduled meeting," he said. Several American Jewish leaders told the Post that they expected a meeting would take place, but that the White House wanted to be assured it would be receiving something from Netanyahu in return. They said the US administration had also felt somewhat blind-sided by how the expectation of a meeting had played out. Still, a number of Jewish leaders indicated that their optimism about a White House visit taking place was waning as the date of Netanyahu's arrival neared with no meeting being announced. The three-day annual conference, which opens on Sunday, is one of the largest communal gatherings of Jewish activists in the US, generally attended by thousands. The UJC is the umbrella organization for more than 150 federations across the United States and Canada. A government source said the GA was one of the most important yearly meetings of the North American Jewish community, and that Netanyahu's attendance at that meeting was the sole reason for his visit. The prime minister understands full well the importance of the relationship between Israel and the North American Jewish community, and his trip is recognition of the significance of those ties, the source said. The date of the visit was coordinated solely with the organizers of the GA, although it was possible that other meetings could be added onto the trip. According to the source, the prime minister plans to speak of the challenges and opportunities that Israel faces, along with discussion of Iran and possibly the peace process. Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to travel with the prime minister to Washington. The trip comes in the aftermath of a flurry of diplomatic activity in the region, in which Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in the past week with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the administration's special envoy George Mitchell.

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