Just when it seemed the tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama couldn’t run any higher, a recently released Haartez report indicates that the White House declined yet another request by the Israeli PM’s to meet with the president during a UN conference in New York at the end of the month. This comes on the heels of other Obama-driven snubs against Netanyahu, signifying what some consider to be a cooling of the once special relationship shared between the two nations.
According to Haaretz, an official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu’s office sent the White House a message stating that although their prime minister will only be in the U.S. for two and a half days, he is interested in meeting Obama and is willing to travel to D.C. expressly for that purpose. The official went on to say that the White House rejected the request, claiming that the president’s schedule does not have room for a meeting with the Israeli PM.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to ease the tension on Tuesday, saying that the differences between the U.S. and Israel should be ironed out “but behind closed doors.”
“We must not forget that the U.S. is Israel’s most important source of support in terms of security,” he said in a statement.
But earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu launched what the Israeli news outlet called “an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government” over its stance on Iran’s nuclear program.
“The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time’. And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” Netanyahu said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Now if Iran knows that there is no red line. If Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs.”
U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stressed again on Tuesday that the U.S. administration doesn’t see public discussion of Iranian nuclear program and red lines as useful. “We don’t think it’s particularly useful to have those conversations in public. It doesn’t help the process and it doesn’t help the integrity of the diplomacy. To be standing here at the podium parsing the details of the Iranian nuclear program is not helpful to getting where we want to go,” she said, briefing the media.
It should also be noted that on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that if Iran decides to produce a nuclear weapon, the United States would have a “little more than a year to act to stop it.”