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by RAY FLEMING

ALMOST all the news about what happened at the White House on Tuesday night when President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met has come from Israel. The White Press Office has not denied reports that the meeting amounted to a dressing down for the Prime Minister. “Humiliation” is a frequently used word to describe the way in which after fruitless discussions Obama left Netanyahu and his advisers alone saying, “Let me know if there is anything new”. But there wasn't anything new -- especially not on the key issue of East Jerusalem settlements. Perhaps the most revealing report is that Netanyahu produced a flow chart to show that he was not responsible for the timing of the announcement of the new settlements, which so enraged Vice-President Biden when he was in Israel. This only showed that Netanyahu has still not understood that the timing was a subsidiary issue -- the important point was the substance of the construction plan.

Most opinion in Israel seems to be that Netanyahu's position has been seriously weakened by the events of the past two weeks. America wants an extension of the freeze on West Bank settlement building and a standstill in East Jerusalem. If Netanyahu were to agree to that his government coalition would probably collapse and the possibility of an election might arise. The Arab League meets this weekend but it and the Palestinians can only wait to see what happens between the US and Israel.