JERUSALEM, (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he will fly to the United States next weekend for talks on Middle East peace efforts and to speak of the need to combat international terrorism.
“Next Sunday, I shall leave for the annual assembly of Jewish communities in the United States,” Netanyahu told reporters at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to a congress to be held in New Orleans on November 7-9.
“I shall meet there with Vice President (Joe) Biden and other senior administration officials and I shall discuss with them a range of issues, including, of course, a renewal of the peace process with the aim of reaching an agreement on peace with security for the state of Israel,” he said.
Israel and the Palestinians resumed direct peace negotiations on September 2, after a 20-month hiatus.
But within weeks the talks ran aground following the expiry of a 10-month Israeli moratorium on the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu has steadfastly refused to reimpose the ban, while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has declined to talk while Israel builds on land he wants for a future state, prompting intense US efforts to resolve the deadlock.
The Israeli premier’s trip to the United States is to take place just days after Tuesday’s midterm elections, whose outcome is likely to have a bearing on the Obama administration’s engagement in the Middle East peace process.
Netanyahu said that the annual general assembly of US Jewish groups takes place this year in the shadow of apparent attempts to send bombs to Jewish targets in Chicago.
Chicago synagogues were warned to be on the alert after suspicious packages were found on two US-bound cargo planes during stopovers in Britain and Dubai, the city’s Jewish Federation has said.
President Barack Obama was told late Thursday of a “potential terrorist threat” from suspicious packages from Yemen on two cargo planes, one in Britain and the other in Dubai, the White House said.
“The assembly takes place this time with the background of reports of an attempted attack on the Jewish community of Chicago,” Netanyahu said.
“It really doesn’t matter if the target is a synagogue in Chicago, a railway station in Madrid or London, or Mumbai or Bali,” he added. “We are stand facing a growing wave of Islamic extremist terror.”
“Among the issues I shall speak about at this assembly are the steps that need to be taken by the civilised world, the free world, in order to stop this wave which threatens us all.