Today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House to discuss ISIS, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and the continuing scandal that is the Iran nuclear deal. It was the first time the two men have met face to face in over a year, and the first time they have spoken since the passage of the Iran deal.

During a private session with the press, Obama emphasized that both leaders are looking for “common ground,” and condemned the latest wave of Palestinian violence perpetuated against Israelis; he backed the right of Israelis to defend themselves, but pushed Netanyahu for ideas on how to relieve the tension. Netanyahu continued his public support for a two-state solution, but insisted that a solution would only come when the Palestinians relent and recognize Israel as a Jewish state—which the Palestinians continue to reject.

You can see the press briefing here:

Via Fox News:

At the top of their meeting on Monday, both Obama and Netanyahu stressed the strength of their alliance.

“We’re with each other in more ways than one,” Netanyahu said, as Obama highlighted the “extraordinary bond” between the two countries.

Both also insisted they had not given up on the pursuit of Middle East peace, even as the prospect of an elusive agreement between Israelis and Palestinians appears further out of reach.

Speaking to reporters ahead of their private meeting, Obama said he would seek Netanyahu’s thoughts on ways to “lower the temperature” between Israelis and Palestinians and get the parties “back on a path towards peace.”

Netanyahu declared, “We have not given up our hope for peace.” He emphasized that his preference was for a two-state solution, but gave no ground on the Israelis’ long-standing conditions for achieving that outcome.

If you don’t have 9 minutes to spare, check out this clip from NBC News, in which President Obama tries to turn the tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the Iran nuclear deal into a near non-issue:

During the meeting, protesters rallied against Israel for Palestine against Israel. The gathering was organized by the Answer Coalition, and supported by groups like Code Pink.

They got creative with the marketing…


…but not many people showed up.

The meeting comes as the U.S. begins negotiations for the renewal of a 10-year defense aid pact which would continue the flow of money from the U.S. to Israel—a major point of contention with those who would like to see a little more space between the two countries.

More from Reuters:

Israel now receives $3.1 billion from the United States annually and wants $5 billion per year for the next package, for a total of $50 billion over a decade, congressional officials have told Reuters. One U.S. official predicted the sides would settle for an annual sum of $4 billion to $5 billion.

Obama’s tangible support for Israel’s security could help deflect accusations from Republican presidential hopefuls that he and any Democrat successor are less pro-Israel than they profess to be.

U.S. voters will elect a new president in November 2016.

“The security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities, and that has expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds,” Obama said.

Netanyahu thanked Obama for that commitment.

In front of the press, at least, the meeting appeared cordial—but judging by how our president has trampled the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, I’d guess there’s a lot more to this than what they chose to put in front of the cameras.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller


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