Obama to host Netanyahu for White House meeting

President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE at the White House early next month, their first meeting since the summer war between Israel and Hamas, which strained relations between the two countries. 

The bilateral meeting comes amid ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas over blockades and border closures that have prevented the flow of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip. 


The two sides are hoping to strike a long-term deal that could extend the fragile cease-fire agreement reached last month after nearly two months of fighting that left some 2,100 Palestinians dead.

One Israel attack on a U.N. school in Rafah earned strong condemnation from administration officials, with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett calling the shelling “indefensible” and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki labeling it “disgraceful.”

Separately, reports surfaced that Netanyahu admonished senior State Department officials “not to ever second guess me again,” after militants violated a cease-fire agreement.

The White House maintains the relationship between the two allies “remains strong and unchanged” despite concerns over Israel's actions in the conflict.

The meeting also comes less than two months ahead of the deadline for the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New York to discuss progress on a deal.

The Kerry-Zarif efforts were tempered by reports Iran would be willing to help in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — but only in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program. That drew a sharp condemnation from Netanyahu, who has never supported the negotiations.

The threat of ISIS is also likely to be high on the president's agenda in a meeting Wednesday with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Additionally, Obama will meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Spanish King Felipe VI while in New York.