President Obama hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today, insisting that “the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities.”
“And that has expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds,” he added. “We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history.”
Obama said before their meeting that the two leaders would also “have a chance to talk about how implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement is going.”
“It’s no secret that the Prime Minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue, but we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about the importance of us blunting and destabilizing activities that Iran may be taking place,” he said.
“I want to be very clear that we condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence,” Obama added, stressing that he would talk with Bibi about “how we can lower the temperature between Israelis and Palestinians, how we can get back on a path towards peace, and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process.”
Netanyahu noted that “we are obviously tested today in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East, as you described it.”
“I think everybody can see it — with the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression and terror by Iran’s proxies and by Iran itself. And the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands. And we don’t know what will transpire,” he said.
“And I think this is a tremendously important opportunity for us to work together to see how we can defend ourselves against this aggression and this terror; how we can roll back. It’s a daunting task.”
On Obama’s desire to move forward on a two-state solution, the prime minister stressed that no one should doubt “Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us.”
“And I look forward to discussing with you practical ways in which we can lower the tension, increase stability, and move towards peace.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest didn’t provide details during the daily briefing, saying the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was still ongoing.
“President Obama believes that the security interests of the people of Israel are best served, and even advanced, through reaching a two-state solution to try to resolve that conflict. And that long- simmering conflict has continued to create the kind of instability that allows violence to take root,” Earnest said.
“…What is clear is that the political leaders on both sides are going to have to make some difficult decisions, including some decisions that in the short term may be politically unpopular with their people, but over the long term are going to be critical to the success and advancement of people on both sides of that issue.”
Netanyahu will be receiving the 2015 Irving Kristol Award tonight at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner gala.
The award honors people “who have made exceptional practical and intellectual contributions to improve government policy, social welfare, or political understanding.” Previous recipients have included Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.