Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States to patch up relations ended in “humiliation” as Washington dressed down its close ally over settlements, Israeli media said on Thursday

Israeli media slams PM’s bid to end US row
Mar 25 07:23 AM US/Eastern
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States to patch up relations ended in “humiliation” as Washington dressed down its close ally over settlements, Israeli media said on Thursday.Leading newspapers said Netanyahu now has his “back to the wall,” with US President Barack Obama demanding major steps to revive the peace process that threaten the premier’s mostly right-wing coalition.

Netanyahu insisted ahead of his departure that the two sides had made “progress” in resolving a row over continued construction in annexed Arab east Jerusalem which has hindered US efforts to revive the peace process.

But Israeli army radio said the visit had done little to repair relations and was at best a “disappointment” and at worst a “resounding failure.”

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said Netanyahu had left Washington “disgraced and isolated” after a flurry of meetings that unusually included no public statement or joint photo opportunity.

“Instead of a reception as a guest of honour, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child, an army private ordered to do laps around the base for slipping up at roll call,” it said.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper said: “There is no humiliation exercise that the Americans did not try on the prime minister and his entourage.

“Bibi received in the White House the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea,” it added, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

Israel’s Yediot Aharonot said the carefully coordinated dressing down came with an explicit demand from Obama that Netanyahu take measures to restore confidence with the Palestinians, who have refused to negotiate with Israel without a settlement freeze including east Jerusalem.

Obama demanded that Netanyahu extend a limited 10-month settlement halt past its deadline, pull Israeli forces back from parts of the West Bank and release hundreds of prisoners in a gesture to Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the daily said, citing unnamed sources.

“Everyone understood that this time Obama had Netanyahu with his back to the wall,” it said.

The two close allies have been mired in a diplomatic crisis since Israel announced plans to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem earlier this month during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.

The move dealt a major blow to US-led peace efforts, coming just two days after the Palestinians had reluctantly agreed to indirect talks, and was seen as a major challenge to Washington’s credibility as a mediator.

Netanyahu apologised for the timing of the announcement but has vowed to continue building in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in a move not recognised by any other government.

Israel views the entire city as its “eternal, indivisible” capital, while the Palestinians have demanded the eastern part, home to some 270,000 Arabs and 200,000 Jews, as the capital of their promised state.

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