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Obama-Netanyahu meet crucial to Middle East
Published on 6 Jul. 2010 11:43 PM IST
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U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are due to meet in Washington Tuesday and the topic of Israeli-Palestinian direct talks are expected to be on the agenda.
According to CBC News, the meeting in the U.S. capital is expected to be warmer than their last one.
When Netanyahu was last in Washington in March he received a chilly reception. Netanyahu did not even get the customary photo-op with Obama, as the Americans were angered by an Israeli decision to expand a major settlement in East Jerusalem. However, this time around, the handshakes are expected to be in full view, as some Israeli commentators have suggested it has more to do with upcoming mid-term elections in the U.S. and concern over the Jewish vote than about peace in the Middle East.
Israel’s 10-month freeze on the building of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank is due to expire in September. The Palestinians want the extension to continue and to include building in East Jerusalem before they’ll consider direct peace talks with Israel.
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz said, “The current freeze has not brought anything and not given a single progress by the Palestinians following the freeze.” The Gaza situation will also be on the table when Obama and Netanyahu meet.
Israel on Monday confirmed plans to ease the Gaza embargo in the wake of the May 31 flotilla controversy, when an Israeli naval raid on a vessel trying to reach Gaza left nine activists dead.
Israel said most consumer goods will now be allowed into Gaza, while a blacklist of items used to make weapons will not be permitted. Also, exports from Gaza won’t be allowed and the sea blockade will continue, as will restrictions on the movement of people in and out of the region.

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