During a "carefully choreographed" Oval Office meeting Tuesday, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to dispel the widespread perception that relations between the two nations have cooled. "The reports about the demise of the special U.S.-Israel relationship aren't just premature — they're just flat wrong," said Netanyahu, invoking a quintessentially American writer. Obama echoed the sentiment. Does the meeting put to rest concerns of a rift? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about the leaders' meeting)
This was just empty political theater: Don't be fooled by this "lovefest," says Benny Avni in the New York Post. The two men are "diametrically opposed" in their visions for the Middle East: "Bibi is strongly attuned to the gathering clouds of war; Bam nurtures peaceful visions of diplomatic breakthroughs." Of course, both leaders need to keep their voters happy by keeping up the appearance unity — but "don't expect their newfound appreciation for each other to last too long."
"Pals — for now"
Theater? Yes. Empty? No: The Obama-Netanyahu meeting may have been heavy on optics, says Massimo Calabresi in Time, but it did yield some hopeful signs. For instance, the "powerful" pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC applauded Obama for his support of "direct talks" with the Palestinians, and Netanyahu received the "intimacy" he's long sought from the White House.
"Obama and Netanyahu: The limits of U.S.-Israel initmacy"
This was the easy part: Obama and Netanyahu certainly "satisfied their short-term political goals," says The New York Times in a editorial. But the next steps will be far more telling. Netanyahu needs to begin "outlining his plan for reaching a two-state solution," and Obama should "go and explain to Israelis directly why it is in the clear interest of both Israel and the United States to move ahead with a peace deal." If that happens, balance will truly have been restored.
"Mr. Netanyahu at the White House"