Rice to meet Netanyahu during visit

Earlier reports indicated she would snub opposition head; Netanyahu urges construction in E-1.

Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu during her trip to Israel that begins on Saturday night, despite reports Tuesday that she had not invited the Likud chairman to sit down for talks. In addition to her meeting with Netanyahu, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, Rice is set to with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and her close confidante, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Rice's visit is intended to promote the Annapolis process, which she initiated and Netanyahu opposes. His advisers emphasized this week that he has better relations with other American leaders, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, with whom he met on Sunday. Netanyahu had to actively campaign to receive time with US President George W. Bush when he came to Israel in January. The Likud leader was originally off Bush's itinerary but he was added after the snub made headlines. The two men ended up meeting for twice as long as had been set. On Tuesday, the day Barak announced moves intended to ease conditions for Palestinians ahead of Rice's visit, Netanyahu took a step that was expected to worsen his relationship with the State Department. Netanyahu visited the controversial E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim and called upon Olmert to start building there immediately despite fierce American opposition. The building plans in the area were approved when Netanyahu was prime minister but have been frozen since due to American pressure. "All of Israel has been built, not because of the approval of the Arabs and the international community, but despite their opposition," Netanyahu told reporters atop a dusty hilltop. "We need the kind of leadership that would insist on this."