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Obama, Netanyahu meeting cordial, but tense

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Obama, Netanyahu meeting cordial, but tense

Israeli leader warns against 'a peace based on illusions'

Talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Barack Obama went better than planned, both sides said Friday before emphasizing that differences remained between the two leaders and their visions for Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The two leaders met a day after Obama delivered a speech on the U.S. policy in the Mideast in which he reportedly angered Netanyahu by stating as a matter of U.S. policy that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."

In what the Wall Street Journal referred to as a rebuke, Netanyahu rejected Obama's proposal that it negotiate a peace deal with Palestinians based on borders that existed before the Six Day War, saying that such borders were "indefensible."

In an Oval Office meeting that lasted far longer than was scheduled Friday, Netanyahu reportedly told Obama that he shared his vision for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Then, according to the New York Times, he promptly listed a series of non-negotiable conditions.

According to the NYT:

  • Israel flatly refuses to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas, the faction that now controls Gaza, he said. Nor will Israel accept the return of Palestinian refugees on Israeli soil, an issue Mr. Obama had suggested on Thursday should be deferred while the two sides worked on borders and security issues.
  • Most significant, Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept a return to the boundaries that existed before the war in 1967 gave Israel control of the West Bank and Gaza.

He reportedly warned Obama against “a peace based on illusions,” referring to compromises outlined by Obama on Thursday.

“Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide; it’s half the width of the Washington Beltway,” Netanyahu reportedly said. “These were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars.”

Netanyahu went further in saying that the international expectation that Israel return to 1967 borders was an obstacle to peace, Haaretz reports.

According to the ABC's Jake Tapper, Netanyahu, whose father is a retired academic, offered Obama repeated history lessons, saying Jews had "been around for almost 4,000 years. We have experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions. But I can say that even at the dearth of — even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the length of the one-on-one between Obama and Netanyahu, at an hour and a half more than twice the time expected, was "an indication of just how productive and constructive this meeting was."

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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