"Netanyahu asked that the United States expedite the export of military
equipment and allow Boeing to export the stealth F-15 as part of the Foreign
Military Sales program," a diplomatic source, briefed on the July 6 meeting
at the White House, said. "Obama did not reply."
The sources termed the 90-minute one-on-one session between Obama and
Netanyahu as "tough", with the two men far apart on such issues as a
Palestinian state in the West Bank as well as Iran. They said Obama warned
Israel against any military strike on Iran and stressed that Washington
would resolve Iran's nuclear threat through a mixture of sanctions and
For the first time, the sources said, Netanyahu urged Obama to release
weapons and platforms approved by the previous administration of
then-President George W. Bush. This included air transports, attack
helicopters, precision-guided munitions and other systems approved by Bush
in 2007 and 2008 and since frozen by Obama.
A key request was for Obama to grant Israel access to Boeing's proposed
F-15 stealth variant, called Silent Eagle and unveiled in 2009. Both Israel
and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in the stealth design, but the
Obama administration has ordered the closure of the F-15 production line as
the Defense Department prepares for the introduction of the F-35 Joint
"Israel wants the stealth F-15 as its next aircraft, but Washington
wants Israel to buy the F-35 ahead of every other international partner,"
the source said.
On July 10, the Silent Eagle completed its maiden flight in a
demonstration of the F-15's stealth capabilities. Boeing said the 80-minute
flight would soon be followed by a test of its weapons suite, including the
firing of the AIM-120 air-to-air missile.
The sources said Obama also urged Netanyahu to accept Palestinian
Authority conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations. One of the
demands submitted by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was for Israel to agree to a
full withdrawal from the West Bank before talks begin.
"There is very heavy pressure on Netanyahu to make unilateral
concessions to the Palestinians," the source said.
For his part, Netanyahu maintained that the alliance between Israel and
the United States continued to be "stable and strong." Speaking to the
Cabinet on July 11, the prime minister said his meeting with Obama included
discussions on Iran, Palestinians and efforts to force Israel to sign the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Israeli premier did not report any
agreement with the president.
"I gained the impression that the president is also attentive to the
state of Israel's special security needs," Netanyahu said. "On these issues,
we are working in concert."
The diplomatic sources said Obama's decision to stage a warm greeting
for Netanyahu stemmed from an urgent call from the Democratic Party
leadership. They said Jewish supporters have been withholding contributions
for the party's campaign for congressional elections in November 2010. A key
victim of this has been Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada,
trailing in the polls in the race against his Republican challenger.
"Obama might come [to Israel] in the fall if he sees that the Jews are
still not contributing to the campaign, and get some photo-ops at the
Western Wall," another source said.
A White House official confirmed that the administration continues to
press the Netanyahu government to agree to major and imminent concessions to
the PA to ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state in the entire West
Bank by 2012. The official said the fissures in the relationship between
Jerusalem and Washington were deep and would take years to repair.
"An alliance is like china," the official said. "When you glue it
together, the cracks don't disappear."