Netanyahu heads to New York for UNGA, meeting with Obama
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Netanyahu heads to New York for UNGA, meeting with Obama

PM to thank US president for last week’s $38 billion military aid deal, in what is likely to be their last face-to-face session

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boards a plane to go on an official state visit to Poland, on June 12, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boards a plane to go on an official state visit to Poland, on June 12, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash 90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to make his way to New York Tuesday afternoon for a trip that will include his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly and what will presumably be his last meeting with US President Barack Obama.

During his five-day stay in the city, Netanyahu will also meet with outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders and visit an exhibit of drawings by an Israeli soldier whose body, along with the remains of another soldier, is currently held by Hamas.

Netanyahu’s delegation reportedly includes Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren — also the former Israeli ambassador to the US — and Netanyahu’s media adviser Ran Baratz, who made international headlines last year after being tapped to lead the National Information Directorate. His appointment to that post was suspended due to a series of controversial statements on Facebook, notably calling US President Barack Obama “anti-Semitic,” and comparing Secretary of State John Kerry’s mental age to that of a 12-year-old. He joined Netanyahu’s communications team in July.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu will meet Obama in his Manhattan hotel to thank him in person for last week’s historic $38 billion dollar military aid package, according to a statement the Prime Minister’s Office released Monday.

“The agreement expresses the depth of the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States,” the statement read.

During his powwow with the president – which will be their 17th meeting in their current positions, and is expected to be their last before a new president is inaugurated in late January – Netanyahu also “intends to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the Middle East as well as the way to advance peace and security,” the statement noted.

In a statement Sunday, the White House indicated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would play a central role in the conversation.

“The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the need for genuine advancement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the face of deeply troubling trends on the ground,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said.

On Thursday morning, Netanyahu will address the UN General Assembly, just moments after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas take the podium.

Abbas, who arrived in New York on Sunday and met with Kerry on Monday, was joined in New York by PA Foreign Minister Raid al-Maliki and Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat.

In New York, Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with African leaders at a “special event” highlighting Israeli technology used in the Africa, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. Furthermore, the prime minister will address a think tank and conduct “a series of meetings with heads of states from across the globe,” his office said, without providing further details.

Lt. Hadar Goldin, killed in Gaza on August 1, 2014. (AP Photo/ Ynet News)
Lt. Hadar Goldin, killed in Gaza on August 1, 2014. (AP Photo/ Ynet News)

Netanyahu will also visit a special exhibition featuring the drawings of Israel Defense Forces Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, which opened last week. The exhibit, entitled “The Final Peace,” is currently on display at UN headquarters.

“Hadar was killed and kidnapped by despicable terrorists during a UN sponsored ceasefire,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said last week at the exhibit’s opening, which was attended by Hadar’s parents and twin brother Tzur.

“He was not only a brave soldier, but a talented artist taken before his time. I will continue to work tirelessly for his return,” Danon vowed.

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