Clinton and Bibi manage show of amity

Benjamin Netanyahu met President Clinton yesterday for the first time as Israeli Prime Minister, and put aside a series of differences over the path to Middle Eastern peace in a public show of amity between Israel and its most important friend and ally.

In what officials hailed as a sign that things were going well, the Oval Office talks overshot their appointed time by 45 minutes. Smiling and relaxed, Mr Netanyahu spoke of "productive discussions" during a brief break for a stroll in the White House rose garden.

But behind yesterday's cordial facade, deep problems still lurked. Washington is ready to be patient and accommodating as the Likud leader elaborates his strategy for negotiating with the Arabs - but not to the extent of dropping the land-for-peace formula that has under- pinned the US-sponsored "peace process" to date.

Before leaving for Washington, however, Mr Netanyahu pointedly noted that Jerusalem was "not willing to accept the deterioration of security as an existing and natural situation." The words were not just a thinly- coded reminder that resumed bargaining with Syria over the Golan heights was out of the question, and of his opposition to a fully-fledged Palestinian state, with its capital in Jerusalem.

They underline Likud's repudiation of the concilatiory policies of previous Labour Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres - for whose re-election this spring the White House wished publicly, but in vain.

On that last point, at least both sides will let bygones be bygones. Not only Israel, but also an exceptionally pro-Israeli Democratic President in a US election year have a great interest in a smooth working relationship.

Israel's longstanding concern over terrorism, moreover, has suddenly acquired new resonance here, after last month's truck bomb explosion in Dhahran, which killed 19 US servicemen. But the broader divergence is as wide as ever.

At best, Mr Netanyahu is prepared to make modest "confidence-building" gestures, in- cluding a promise to meet the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, and an easing of the restrictions on Palestinian workers crossing from the West Bank and Gaza, imposed after the recent spate of suicide bombings in Israel.

But if the Administration is happy to be patient, parts of the Jewish comunity here are not. A group of 150 rabbis from the Jewish Peace Lobby have written to Mr Clinton demanding that the $1.2 billion annual economic aid Israel receives from the US be suspended if Mr Netanyahu carries out his campaign promise to expand West Bank settlements. Now was "not the time for a wait-and-see policy", the letter said.

But the Prime Minister was sure of a warmer welcome from AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, and on Capitol Hill where he will today address a Congress controlled by Republicans instinctively more sympathetic to his hardline approach to national security.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam