Differences between the US and Israel have been marked once again during the first meeting in eight months between the countries’ two leaders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was at the White House on Wednesday to discuss Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but instead faced thinly veiled criticism over the recent Gaza war.
President Barack Obama made it clear that he supports Israel’s right to defend itself but not at any price:
“We have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israel citizens are safe in their own homes, and schoolchildren in their schools, from the possibility of rocket fire but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.”
Word of Israel’s approval of the planned construction of more than 2.600 settler homes in mostly Arab East Jerusalem also clouded the meeting.
For his part Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu was blunt over Obama’s intention to reach a nuclear deal with Iran:
“You know Mr President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power. And I fervently hope under your leadership that will not happen!”
Though Israel backs Obama’s efforts to forge a coalition to confront Sunni Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq, Netanyahu is concerned the US will go easy on Shi’ite Iran and its nuclear programme if they come on board and join the fight.