Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the White House Wednesday. It's his first face-to-face meeting with President Obama since a notably uncomfortable visit six months ago, before the war in Gaza began and the United States started bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The White House said it expects the men to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Islamic State, Iran and more, and reaffirm the "deep and enduring bonds" between the countries.
Bonds between the two men themselves -- now, that's a different story. As they get ready to meet, here's a look at five of the most awkward moments in their official relationship:
1) May 2011: A badly-timed encounter
In a tone befit for a lecture, Netanyahu, sitting in the Oval Office with President Obama, spoke at length on Israeli history and rejected as unrealistic a proposal Obama had suggested the day before. Netanyahu laid bare the differences between the two leaders as they sat together before a throng of reporters. His comments came the day after he had an angry phone call with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after Obama suggested the 1967 borders be the starting line for a peace deal and creation of a Palestinian state.
“Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure,” said Netanyahu. “The only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakable facts. I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities.”
As our colleague Scott Wilson wrote at the time, "Obama and Netanyahu are allies only by tradition, and their relationship lacks personal warmth and is tested often by their differing political views."
2) November 2011: The hot mic incident
A friendly reminder to politicians and others: always, always make sure your microphone is turned off before you start talking about someone. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Obama apparently forgot this cardinal rule of life at the G-20 summit in Cannes. Sarkozy told Obama that he finds Netanyahu exasperating ... and some reporters heard the exchange.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, according to Reuters. The agency's reporter was among those who heard the exchange.
“You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to a French interpreter.
3) July 2012: Campaign awkward
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu warmly welcomed his old friend and former consulting co-worker Mitt Romney -- who was running for president against Obama, visiting Israel to burnish his foreign policy credentials. The two men met at Netanyahu's office and their families broke the Sabbath fast together.
Romney and Netanyahu were so chummy, in fact, that shortly after Obama was reelected, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said his nation's leader may have crossed the line. "Obama was a friend of Israel before he was elected and will remain so now..." said Olmert. "After what Netanyahu has done in the past few months -- it needs to be asked whether the prime minister has a friend in the White House? I'm not sure."
That sort of speculation may be why, as the New York Times noted just after Election Day, "Several observers detected more than a little awkwardness in video of Mr. Netanyahu with the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, on Wednesday, in which he seemed to force a smile as he said, 'I want to congratulate President Obama on his re-election.'"
4) September 2012: Dueling narratives on a non-meeting
During the home stretch of the presidential campaign, Israeli officials told several media outlets, including the Washington Post, the White House had snubbed a request from Netanyahu to meet with Obama while both were in New York for the UN General Assembly. The White House played down the assertions, saying that the two men just wouldn't be in New York at the same time but were in regular contact. At the time, the United States was pressing Israel to hold off against threatened military action against Iran, with Netanyahu saying that the United States did not have the "moral right" to hinder planned Israeli military action.
5) March 2014: A badly-timed encounter, the sequel: Polar vortex edition
The two men again met in the Oval Office, where Obama pressed Netanyahu to accept a peace deal with the Palestinians as the deadline neared for both sides to sign on to a U.S.-brokered framework for a peace accord.
The meeting came at an awkward moment. Netanyahu had made clear beforehand that he was exasperated that the United States had led talks with Iran over its nuclear program, and that he did not approve of the administration's Syria policy. The prime minister and other Israeli politicians were also upset that Secretary of State John Kerry had said in February that allowing peace talks, which had resumed after a three-year hiatus, to stall could incite critics who were talking about Israeli boycotts.
Then, just days before their meeting, Bloomberg View published a headline-grabbing interview in which Obama appeared to press Netanyahu publicly to sign on to the deal.
"When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation,” Obama said in the interview, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?” If Netanyahu wasn't happy with the solution being suggested, Obama said, “he needs to articulate an alternative approach” -- a comment that was reportedly not particularly appreciated by the prime minister.
Even seated together in the White House, the two seemed to talk past each other. “Tough decisions will have to be made,” Obama told reporters just before the two men met, with Netanyahu beside him. “It is still possible to create two states, but it is difficult and requires compromise from both sides.”
Just a few minutes later, still seated beside the president, Netanyahu seemed to directly challenge that assessment, telling reporters Israel had already taken "unprecedented steps" to indicate its good faith. "Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t," he said. "Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth."
Just after the meeting -- in a news cycle-grabbing story titled "With Netanyahu, Obama Plays Bad Cop to Kerry’s Good Cop" -- the New York Times said the icy snowstorm that blanketed Washington as the prime minister arrived had been "mild compared with the wintry welcome he got from the White House."
The relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, the paper said, "seems forever stuck in a polar vortex."