Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a proposed visit from US Secretary of State John Kerry following the Israeli elections, saying it would be better to visit after a government coalition is formed. The purpose of the visit may have been to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, pundits say. The deadline for Netanyahu to form a coalition is May 6 at 8 PM. The report came from Israel’s Channel 2 news station. Correspondent Udi Segal suggested that Kerry was seeking reassurances that Israel was willing to move forward on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. During his campaign, Netanyahu said that there would be no Palestinian state created on his watch. He later clarified that he meant that current conditions were not right for the creation of a Palestinian state.
The Israeli leader’s opposition to focusing at this time on negotiations with the Palestinians, together with strong disagreements between Jerusalem and US President Barack Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue, led the White House to publicly excoriate Netanyahu. Obama said that the US “needs to rethink our approach” towards relations with Israel. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power clarified that this could include putting forward anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council. On the Iranian issue, Obama will not meet with Netanyahu in person until a final nuclear agreement is reached, and Kerry dismissed Israeli concerns about the deal as “hysteria.” There have also been intimations that the Obama administration interfered in the Israeli elections. The US Senate is currently investigating whether the State Department provided funding to the Victory 15 campaign, whose sole goal was to unseat Netanyahu. MORE