The Biden administration has suggested a meeting at the White House between top Israeli and Palestinian officials, Axios reported Thursday, citing multiple American and Israeli sources.
The White House raised the possibility of such a meeting last December and low-profile discussions on it have been ongoing, according to Axios. It would be held between national security advisors and concentrate on security and economic issues. The United States, Egypt, and Jordan would back the talks.
The proposal has faced some obstacles, including reservations from conservative Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The premier does not support the establishment of a Palestinian state, and went into office with a diverse coalition of right, centrist, left, and Islamist parties that agreed to maintain the status quo with the Palestinians due to their opposing views.
Nonetheless, he did not immediately rule out a possible meeting when it was raised again by the White House in February, and elected “to see whether the idea gained momentum,” Axios reported.
The proposal hit a significant snag on Wednesday, however, with the sudden resignation of a lawmaker from Bennett’s right-wing party over religion-state issues, which robbed his coalition of its thin parliamentary majority and plunged the government into its latest crisis.
Bennett is now trying to shore up support within his party, severely constraining his ability to make significant diplomatic moves.
A senior Biden administration official told Axios, “We have ongoing discussions with all of our Middle East partners on increasing regional integration to tackle shared challenges. These discussions have been wholly constructive.”
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office declined to address the matter, saying, “We don’t comment on our dialogue with the US government.”