U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are Monday meeting in Washington, with the American leader attempting to break an impasse to reach a final Middle East peace accord.
In a recent interview, Mr. Obama urged the Israeli leader to "seize the moment" to make peace and reach an agreement that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu told an Israeli television network he wants to reach an agreement, but "it has to be a good deal." The Israeli leader said, "I will not give in to pressure."
As they meet at the White House, Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu will discuss the ongoing efforts by Western nations, Russia and China to reach a long-term agreement to curb Iran's nuclear development program.
The Israeli leader is deeply suspicious of the negotiations with Iran, contending Tehran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon that could threaten the existence of the Jewish state. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a new round of Mideast peace talks last July, with the goal of reaching a final agreement by next month. But the Obama administration revised the goal as the talks stalled.
In an interview published Sunday by Bloomberg View, Obama warned that "time is running out" for Israel to reach a final accord with the Palestinians. He said if the peace talks fail, the U.S. would be unable to defend Israel from a backlash on the international stage, including a growing threat of boycotts and diplomatic isolation.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu told reporters before his departure for Washington that Israel will continue to reject what he called the "various pressures" to reach a deal.
Among the issues to be resolved are the status of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian refugees and final borders. The Palestinians are demanding that Israel base the final borders on lines drawn before Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem during military conflicts in 1967.
Obama will hold a follow up meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on March 17 at the White House.