Before they meet at the White House Monday, both Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu are making steps toward a form of détente after nearly seven years of acrimony that peaked in the bitter contest which the Israeli leader lost over a nuclear deal with Iran. The US president, for his part, has given up on efforts to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks before he leaves office in January 2017. Rob Malley, Obama’s senior Middle East adviser said ahead of Netanyahu’s arrival in Washington, “The president has reached the conclusion that, barring a major shift, the parties are not going to be in the position to negotiate a final status agreement,” for the first time in two decades, the White House “faces a reality where the prospect of a negotiated two-state solution is not in the cards,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister for his part will be reaching out to pro-Obama Democratic circles and make his pitch directly to the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) on Tuesday. Detente would be welcomed by many Democrats, who feel that Netanyahu’s fierce opposition to the nuclear accord, and especially his speech on Congress, put them in an uncomfortable position.
Netanyahu will also appear before the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as well as at CAP. In addition, he will speak at the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Tuesday.
Netanyahu is also planning to meet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The House is not in session this week, and both Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) are out of town.