Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington for the Jewish federations’ annual General Assembly this week, went to the White House last night for a meeting with President Barack Obama. The two men were joined by senior staffers—including Israel’s American-born ambassador, Michael Oren—and talked for about an hour and forty minutes. What did they talk about? Well, that’s what no one knows. The meeting was closed to press, and there were no pre- or post-visit press conferences held by either party—though, up until late yesterday, the Israelis were telling reporters they expected to hold a public debriefing of some kind. That appears to have been scrapped, and Netanyahu is on his way to Paris, where he’s scheduled to meet tomorrow with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Why? No one seems quite sure about that, either. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs chalked it up to the last-minute nature of the meeting—which wasn’t confirmed until Sunday, prompting plenty of grumbling from pundits who saw it as a White House effort to put Netanyahu at a disadvantage.
In any case, the only account of what happened last night has come from the White House, which issued the following terse statement:
“The President and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship. The President reaffirmed our strong commitment to Israel’s security, and discussed security cooperation on a range of issues. The President and Prime Minister also discussed Iran and how to move forward on Middle East peace.”
There you have it.
Readout of the President’s Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu [whitehouse.gov]
Earlier: Bibi on Peace: ‘Let’s Get on With It’