The Obama administration hinted on Saturday that the U.S. president would press Israel's new prime minister to endorse Palestinian statehood and curb settlement expansion. However, senior American officials downplayed prospects of a confrontation between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their Monday's meeting.
"The president does not believe it's going in a bad direction," one Obama aide was quoted as saying by Reuters. "Two states living side by side in peace and security -- my guess is they'll discuss that, and it's an issue they'll continue to work through," an official said.
"The Israelis have obligations related to settlements and outposts," an official said. "It will certainly be a topic for them to discuss."
However, according to Israeli sources, Netanyahu is unlikely to voice support for the establishment of a Palestinian state. An aide to the Israeli prime minister said in an effort to soften relations with Washington, the Israeli leader will propose that joint teams draft a new road map for the Palestinian peace process and a new strategy on Iran.
At the meeting with Obama, Netanyahu plans to emphasize his intention to resume the peace talks with the Palestinians soon, but with the participation of the "moderate" Arab states.