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.
Haaretz adds that 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.
In comments that appeared to bring the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran closer, Mr Netanyahu had earlier taken Washington to task for rebuffing his call to set a “red line” for Iran’s nuclear program, which has already prompted four rounds of UN sanctions.
“The world,” Netanyahu said, “tells Israel to ‘wait,’ and that ‘there is still time.’ And I say ‘Wait for what?’ ‘Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put deadlines in front of Iran do not have the moral right to put a red light before Israel.”
“The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs,” he said. “If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference towards obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities and from there nuclear bombs.”
“Iran must understand that there are red lines so it stops its nuclear program,” he added.
Mr. Netanyahu’s comments came in the wake of statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday, and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday, that the US had no intention of putting either red lines or deadlines in front of the Iranians.
Clinton said that the US was not setting deadlines, and Nuland expanded that by saying that it was “not useful” to be “setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines.”
And what is the reason Mr. Obama has refused to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister? Well, we can’t forget that President Obama complained to French President Sarkozy that he finds Mr. Netanyahu annoying. But, with the fact that Israel might soon be going to war against Iran, it has to be something else.
The White House, in a remarkable assertion, said it was indeed a scheduling problem. You see, instead of meeting with the leader of the State of Israel, our president already has his schedule filled with something else…
…an appearance on the David Letterman show.