Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded President Barack Obama’s efforts to battle the Islamic State and said “everybody should support this,” but made it clear in a Wednesday Oval Office meeting with Obama that he views Iran as a graver threat.
“Israel fully supports your effort and your leadership to defeat ISIL,” Netanyahu said, using the U.S. government’s acronym for the Islamic State. “We think everybody should support this.”
But, he added, “even more critical” is the two countries shared goal of preventing Iran from becoming a military nuclear power. Netanyahu warned that Iran hopes to lift the tough economic sanctions it faces, and warned that it would be left as a “threshold nuclear power.
“I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen,” Netanyahu said to Obama.
Obama and Netanyahu haven’t had the friendliest of relationships, but Obama opened his remarks by noting he thinks he’s “met with Bibi more than any world leader during my tenure as president.”
He noted that though the U.S. is “proud” of contributing to the Iron Dome during last summer’s Israeli-Gaza conflict, “we also recognize that we have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli 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.”
He said the two would “discuss extensively” rebuilding Gaza, “but also how can we find a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Obama said he’d brief Netanyahu on his efforts to take out the Islamic State, including creating a coalition for military action, and to bring about a shift in Arab states and Muslim countries. He said they’d also talk about what he said was progress being made in convincing Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
He called it a “high priority for not only Israel, but also the United States and the world community.”