WASHINGTON – President Bush is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the White House June 19, the first get-together for the two leaders since they saw each other last November.
"The president looks forward to discussing with the prime minister the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Israel, as well as a wide range of regional and international issues," White House press secretary Tony Snow said Thursday.
Two weeks ago, Bush gave an empathetic nod toward the beleaguered Palestinian people, talking of the "deep humiliation" they face because of poverty and heavy restrictions imposed by Israel.
The Bush-Olmert meeting will come after a planned meeting next week in the Palestinian territories between the Israeli leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A five-month truce in Gaza unraveled earlier this month when the Hamas militant group began firing barrages of rockets into southern Israel, prompting Israel to respond with a series of airstrikes. More than 50 Palestinians, most of them militants, and two Israeli civilians have been killed. The violence has slowed down in recent days.
Olmert and Abbas promised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in March to meet every two weeks with the aim of moving beyond day-to-day issues and begin discussing the outlines of a final peace agreement. However, the men have met just once since then, in April.