Monday, May 18, 2009

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu begins a 2-day visit to Washington to discuss the peace process, Iran, bilateral relations, and Middle East regional affairs, holding his 1st mtg. with U.S. pres. Barack Obama at the White House. Obama privately presses for a total Israeli settlement freeze and endorsement of a 2-state solution, with Netanyahu demurring. The leaders emerge showing no signs of tensions, instead stressing shared goals of preventing Iran fr. developing nuclear weapons and achieving peace btwn. Israel and the Palestinians. (HA, IFM, WP, WT 5/18; NYT, WP, WT 5/19; NYT, WJW 5/21; WP 5/24; NYT 5/29; JPI 6/4; HA 6/11; see also NYT, WP 5/17)

In the West Bank, the IDF makes a rare daytime incursion into al-Khadir nr. Bethlehem, raiding 2 secondary schools while classes are in session, holding the students for several hours while searching for a wanted person; no arrests are made. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-‘Arub refugee camp (r.c.) and 3 villages nr. Hebron. (OCHA 5/20; PCHR 5/21)

A 5th round of Palestinian national unity talks (5/16–18) ends in Cairo without any progress. (Xinhua–New China News Agency 5/18; NYT 5/20)