Obama Invites Netanyahu Back to Washington

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Barack Obama next week in Washington, a fresh attempt by the U.S. administration to make amends over recent diplomatic slights.

Next week's meeting with Obama promises to be more cordial than the last visit two months ago, when the prime minister was ushered into the White House through a back door. He did not dine with the president, nor meet with the press, nor did they pose for the usual photo op together.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, in Israel for his son's bar mitzvah, extended the invitation during a visit with the prime minister on Wednesday.

Some analysts viewed the meeting as a deliberate attempt to humiliate Netanyahu for rejecting Obama's demands, which included extending the 10-month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and issuing a building freeze in Jerusalem.

Repercussions from that meeting reverberated not only among American Jewish leaders but also with congressmen and other officials.

Over the past few weeks, the Obama administration has been trying to mend fences and counter criticism for what has been perceived by many as a decidedly anti-Israel agenda.

Last week, the president met with three dozen Jewish members of Congress.

"The president gets it," Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., told the New York Daily News. "The president was reminded and conceded there were missteps taken…in hitting the Israelis and then treating the Palestinians with kid gloves."

Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, called Obama's recent efforts "a positive development."

"There are two questions, though, that will only be answered over time: Will the outreach be sustained, and will the policy be consistent with the positions being expressed in the outreach," Solow said.

Meanwhile, Obama approved additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome defense system, meant to provide a measure of protection against Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

According to some analysts, Obama is interested in holding a positive meeting with Netanyahu before he meets again with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a few more weeks.

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