The World's Matthew Bell has the latest on President Obama's Mideast strategy, following today's meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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LISA MULLINS: I'm Lisa Mullins, and this is The World. A much-anticipated meeting took place in Washington today. President Obama hosted Benjamin Netanyahu today at The White House. The two leaders share a couple of goals. They want to see an end to the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And they both want to see an end to Iran's nuclear program. But the President and the Prime Minister are apparently not reading from the same page on how to achieve both of those goals. The World's Matthew Bell is following the story. Exactly how in the Palestinian conflict are these two men not reading from the same page, Matthew?
MATTHEW BELL: Well, if the meetings that these two men had today were the blow-up that some people predicted, it wasn't apparent when they took some questions from reporters in the Oval Office. But if you read between the lines and really listen to what they had to say, then you could hear the difference. Now, Netanyahu said that he is welcoming Barack Obama's efforts to engage in trying to restart the peace process with the Palestinians, but one thing that was conspicuously absent from his comments today were the words â€œPalestinian stateâ€. He said Israel doesn't want to govern the Palestinians, but he didn't mention â€œPalestinian stateâ€. And that is a real potential stumbling block because it's a cornerstone of US policy and a cornerstone of the Obama administration's policy going forward. Here's something Mr. Obama had to say about what is needed from the Israeli leader at this time.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We have seen progress stalled on this front, and I suggested to the Prime Minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure.
MULLINS: So Barack Obama is putting the pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu there. One very likely stumbling block, of course, Matthew, is the matter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Was that addressed today?
BELL: That came up, and President Obama said that pretty clearly, â€œLook. The Israelis have signed on to the road block peace plan, and they have obligations under that plan to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank.â€
MULLINS: All right. What did we hear about Iran? We know Benjamin Netanyahu wants to put the spotlight on Iran more so than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What was discussed about what has to be done about Iran's nuclear program?
BELL: Netanyahu talked about how he really appreciated the White House's view toward Iran's nuclear program. And he talked about the threat that if Iran was allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, it would threaten Israel, he said, it would threaten other Arab states, and he said it would threaten the United States. Here's what he had to say about that.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: So in that context, I very much appreciate, Mr. President, your firm commitment to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear military capability, and also your statement that you're leaving all options on the table.
BELL: The big question here, Lisa, is that of a timetable. Now, interestingly, President Obama said that within one year, he thinks there should be some sign of progress, at least, on the diplomatic process of engagement that the White House is pursuing with Iran. At that point, he said there will be successive steps. He said â€“ he's mentioned stepping up sanctions. And then, you heard there Netanyahu saying that he appreciated President Obama not taking anything off the table â€“ any options off the table, and what he's talking about there is military force.
MULLINS: Regarding Iran? All right. Thank you very much. The World's Matthew Bell, thanks.