Israel's new leader is heading for Washington amid mixed signals from his government about the peace process.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House. Mr. Netanyahu's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the Israeli leader could endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. Barak told Israeli television that he believes the government will accept a peace process based on two states living side by side in peace and security.
But Barak is from the Labor Party, the most dovish faction in the right-wing coalition. And Mr. Netanyahu has not openly endorsed the two-sate solution. He has warned that a Palestinian state in the West Bank could come under control of the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. And that, he says, would pose a grave threat to Israel's security.
Hawkish members of Mr. Netanyahu's Likud party are trying to tie his hands.
Parliamentarian Israel Katz says he is convinced that Mr. Netanyahu will not recognize an independent and armed Palestinian state.
So Mr. Netanyahu faces a dilemma. He wants to maintain Israel's all-important ties with the U.S., which gives Israel political and financial support; but that will be hard to do without endorsing the two-state solution. As U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell put it: "The two-state solution is the only solution."