Washington (CNN) – The White House says President Obama will attempt to "seize momentum" in the Middle East peace process when he sits down Tuesday morning for a rescheduled Oval office meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The gaps have narrowed," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
In a conference call briefing ahead of the long anticipated meeting, Rhodes and Dan Shapiro, NSC Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the meeting would focus on how to move proximity talks to direct talks, and on the recent "liberalization" of Israel's policy on commercial traffic into Gaza.
The controversial embargo, which blocked the flow of goods from Gaza to Israel, turned deadly in May, when Israeli forces stormed a vessel that was part of a Gaza bound humanitarian flotilla. At least nine people were killed.
Shapiro said the situation had been "unsustainable," but officials added that the U.S. continues to be sensitive to Israel's security concerns over weapons being shipped into Gaza.
Tuesday's meeting would come on the heels of visits to the White House by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Tuesday, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on June 9th. Administration officials said those discussions centered on issues of regional security and progress made in gaining tougher UN sanctions on Iran.
This would be the fifth meeting between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu since the Prime Minister took office last spring.
While the White House has downplayed any rift between the two leaders, some have described the relationship as "frosty." During Netanyahu's last visit to the White House he was left to consult with his own staff in the Roosevelt room for more than one hour, after the President retreated to his residence.
In addition, the White House didn't schedule media access to that meeting. That's something normally afforded a head of government or state. President Obama, now 18 months into his presidency, has yet to visit Israel – and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he's not aware of any plans for a trip.
Shapiro dismissed the idea of a rift between the U.S. and Israel instead he touted the relationship. "This is a very close relationship, a special relationship, a strategic alliance with one of our closest partners in not just the Middle East but the entire world." Shapiro said.
Poor little Benny,has the money pit run dry?
Netanyahu better bring his own lunch just in case Obama decides to walk out on him again !!!
He's been to 7 Muslim countries but NOT to Israel. Nuff said?
natanyaho isn,t he the same guy back in the 1980 that isreal would not need american tax payer money in 5yrs that they would be on there own why should anyone trust him now, he must be looking for more money.
I'll lay odds that that so called meeting will turn into a
ten minute photo op. Then Netanyahu will get on his
plane and wonder why he wasted the time to fly over here.
Getting Netanyahu to be honest and reasonable will be a miracle. May Obama work it!
The only momemtum that can-and should- be seized is initiative by Israel to allow the flow of all goods into Gaza EXCEPT weapens.
The Palestinians are not the problem;HAMAS is.So long as Hamas is not eliminated there cannot and never will be peace no matter who talks and how often.
gerry at edmonton.can.
This time for once in your life Mr. President, show a little class. The whole Musslim world knows that you favor the terrorist over the Jewish people.
We have to draw a distinction between loyalty to Israel and loyalty to the current government of Israel. There will never be peace with Netanyahu in power. He doesn't want peace, he wants conquest. The most workable plan ever proposed for peace with the Palestinians was laid out by Ariel Sharon, who was brought down by a stroke.
Like the vast majority of Americans, I would not sit still and see Israel destroyed; I also believe that the Netanyahu government will make matters worse, not better, and that does not make me either anti-Israel or anti-Semetic.
I like Obama and everything, he's just too shady for me. I know that is OK with some people and that's fine, none of my business. It's just not for me.
SLObama once again is selling America and dealing away our Freedom, SLObama needs to GO and take hitler pelosi with you,
Protest the Israeli carpet salesman and war criminal at Lafayette Park across from The White House on Tuesday, July 6 at 10 AM. We do not need Israel and they don't respect international law, so screw 'em!