Diplomacy

Netanyahu Says White House Meeting was “One of the Best” He’s Had with Obama

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his two-and-a-half hour discussion with President Barack Obama on Monday was “one of the best meetings I’ve had with him,” The Times of Israel reported.

“What you saw from outside is also what transpired on the inside. It was one of the best meetings I’ve had with Obama,” Netanyahu said.

“The conversation was in very good spirits and very honest; no one hid the disagreements between us. Rather, we focused on how to go forward,” he added.

The two leaders discussed ways to ensure Iran doesn’t violate the agreement and possible means to counter the regime’s aggressive behavior, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu added, “I did not feel any tension. Both the tone and the substance of the meeting were in a spirit of being productive — let’s see what we can do, not let’s see how we can argue.”

The bulk of the meeting between the two leaders focused on a renewal of the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing the extension of American military aid. The existing MOU was signed in 2007 and is scheduled to expire in two years. The U.S. currently provides Israel with $3 billion annually, and Israel is thought to be requesting up $5 billion due to the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East. A high-level American delegation is scheduled to travel to Israel next month to work out the terms of the new agreement.

In addition to the military aid, Obama and Netanyahu reportedly spent a significant amount of time discussing the situation in Syria. Netanyahu reiterated that Israel would not tolerate a situation “that would allow Iran or its proxies to launch missiles at Israel.”

The New York Times reported that the two leaders emphasized their common goals in a joint appearance prior to their meeting, including “work[ing] together on confronting Iranian misbehavior and bolstering Israel’s security.” A video of the appearance is embedded below.

“It’s no secret that the prime minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue,” said Mr. Obama, seated beside Mr. Netanyahu in the Oval Office at the start of the meeting, their first in more than a year. “But we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about us blunting destabilizing activities in Iran that may be taking place,” he added. “And so, we’re going to be looking to make sure we find common ground there.” …

“We’re with each other in more ways than one, and I want to thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong, strengthen our alliance, which is strong,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

“I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace — we’ll never give up our hope for peace,” Mr. Netanyahu added. “And I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

As Netanyahu and Obama met, The Washington Post published a study that showed bipartisan support for Israel in the U.S. remains strong and has actually risen “across the political spectrum” since 2014.

[Photo: The White House / YouTube ]