After a year of tensions, and even hostility, between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, a mending of fences may be on the horizon – but not until final negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program conclude.
Last week, President Obama met with Jewish leaders at the White House, where he attempted to assuage concerns and assure the Jewish community of his commitment to Israel.
According to a New York Times report on Wednesday, a number of the leaders were curious as to when Obama would invite Netanyahu for an in-person visit to the United States.
Not yet, was Obama’s response.
Sources familiar with the closed-door meeting told the newspaper that Obama balked at inviting Netanyahu because of two leaders’ main point of contention – Iran’s nuclear program.
The sources claim the President suggested to the group that a face-to-face meeting at the White House would just end with Netanyahu venting complaints over the upcoming Iran deal.
As such, Obama would continue to speak to the Prime Minister via telephone, postponing any invitation to Washington until after the June 30 deadline for a final deal with the Islamic Republic.
Major allies, the United States and Israel faced intense conflict this year as negotiations between Iran and six world powers continued, eventually resulting in a framework deal earlier this month.
In March, two weeks prior to general elections in Israel, Netanyahu spoke against a nuclear deal before a joint session of Congress, incurring the wrath of the Obama administration, who had been lobbying hard for an agreement.
Still, now it appears the White House is trying to put the past behind them, and work publicly to mend fences with Netanyahu as well as show its support for the Jewish state.
For instance, Vice President Joseph Biden will speak at Washington’s official Israeli Independence Day celebration on Thursday.
And yet, as Obama’s response to Jewish leaders last week about a visit from Netanyahu demonstrates, a full-blown reconciliation doesn’t seem to be on the table in the near future.