President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday insisted they had not given up on the pursuit of Middle East peace, even as the prospect of an elusive agreement between Israelis and Palestinians appears further out of reach.
Obama and Netanyahu's meeting at the White House marked the first time the two leaders have talked face to face in more than a year. Their relationship has long been marred by tension, with the most recent being the U.S.-backed nuclear deal with Iran.
Ahead of Netanyahu's arrival in Washington, U.S. officials made clear the White House does not expect peace to be achieved before Obama leaves office in January 2017.
Monday's meeting comes amid a fresh burst of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel has accused Palestinian political and religious leaders of inciting the violence, while Palestinians say the violence is due to a lack of hope for gaining independence after years of failed peace efforts.
Monday's meeting was clouded by the controversy following Netanyahu's appointment of a new spokesman who has spoken derisively about Obama. Ran Baratz, a conservative commentator, has suggested in Facebook posts that Obama is anti-Semitic and Secretary of State John Kerry cannot be taken seriously.