Netanyahu Welcomed at Home

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was warmly greeted when he returned home from Washington on Thursday after standing up to unprecedented pressure and humiliating treatment from the Obama administration.

A Smith Research poll at the beginning of the week showed 9 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the Obama administration is pro-Israel, compared with an 88 percent approval rating under former President George W. Bush.

A headline in the London-based The Times on Thursday read "Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated after Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner.'"

"For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the president withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of," The Times stated.

"Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation," it read.

The Washington Post drew similar conclusions.

"Netanyahu is being treated as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator needed for strategic reasons but conspicuously held at arms length."

Here in Israel, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat praised the prime minister for not backing down to U.S. demands on construction in Jerusalem, promising that the nation's capital would continue to grow and flourish.

"I want to strengthen the hands of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who protected Jerusalem during his visit to Washington," Barkat said at a city council meeting on Thursday.

"There is no freeze in Jerusalem. The city keeps developing and it has needs," the mayor said.

"Jerusalem is home to 800,000 residents. We will reach a million [residents] in 20 years. We are planning the expansion of neighborhoods for both Jewish and Arab residents in the fairest way," Barkat said.

Netanyahu will brief senior ministers on the meetings on Friday morning. The Obama administration has demanded an Israeli response by Saturday so they can present it at an Arab League meeting in Libya to gain its members' backing for starting U.S.-mediated third-party talks.

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The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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