Netanyahu Extends Washington Visit as U.S., Israel Disagreements Persist

Officials remain tight-lipped about the White House meetings.

ByABC News
March 24, 2010, 3:04 PM

March 24, 2010— -- The U.S.-Israel spat may not be over yet.

Despite the insistence of officials on both sides that tensions have cooled, there are fresh indications that disagreements persist between the two sides.

President Obama sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Tuesday, looking to smooth over relations that had soured in recent weeks after announcements by the Israeli Interior Ministry that it would build new housing units in East Jerusalem.

But moments before the two men met, word leaked out in Jerusalem that another 20 new apartments had been approved for Jews in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Although officials from both sides refuse to describe the meeting, indications are it did not go as planned.

After a nearly 90 minute meeting with Obama, Netanyahu retreated to the Roosevelt Room in the White House to confer with his aides. An hour later, he requested another meeting with the president, who had since gone upstairs to his residence. Officials say the two leaders then met for another 35 minutes.

The White House said today that staff from both sides met until 12:30 a.m. ET and planned to continue talks today.

Netanyahu has lingered in Washington with an unusually quiet schedule, and his departure time is said to be up in the air. Israeli officials say he is huddled with his advisors.

U.S. officials say U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell will meet with Netanyahu today to continue discussions, though officials refuse to say what topics are on the table.

Both sides are staying tight-lipped about last night's mysterious meetings between Obama and Netanyahu at the White House. The meetings were completely closed to the press – no reporters allowed and no photos released by the White House.

"I'm at this point not going to get into walking through the substance of what they discussed," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today other than to describe the meetings as "honest and straightforward."