Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to meet separately with American presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in New York on Sunday, campaign sources and Israeli officials said.
“The meeting was set up with Donald Trump first, then we spoke immediately with the Clinton camp to keep things even,” an Israeli official said.
Netanyahu, who traveled New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, is set to meet with each candidate for an hour.
Israel is a close ally of the U.S., and presidential candidates often meet with Israeli leaders. However, neither Trump nor Clinton has visited Israel in the current election cycle.
On Friday, Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a New York hotel. After the meeting, they said they had agreed to try to find ways to promote peace and stability in the region.
“There are things we believe we can achieve in the next months and there are serious concerns we all have about security in the region,” Kerry said. “Our hope is obviously that we can find a way to utilize the friendship of our countries to advance what we believe is not only in the highest priority for Israel to provide for its long-term security, but also to create a new relationship within the region that can be powerful in reinforcing that long-term security interest.”
Their meeting came hours after the Middle East Quartet – of which Kerry is a member – blasted Israeli building in the Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, and said they constituted an obstacle to peace.
The Quartet is made up of the United States, Russia, the EU and the U.N.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he “perceived a new dynamic developing” after meeting with Arab leaders and others involved in the peace effort this week at the United Nations.
Ayrault has been trying to rally support for France’s proposal to organize an international conference before the end of the year to present Israelis and Palestinians with a package of incentives if they reach a peace agreement.
He said diplomats have been receptive to the idea this week. “Our path, our approach, our methods are understood and appreciated,” Ayrault said at a news conference before the quartet meeting.
Ayrault sidestepped a question about whether Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been receptive to the idea of an end-of-year meeting, saying “there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve this conference.”