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US, Israel play down differences over Iran

As the presidential election approaches, the US and Israel are playing down any differences regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities, although defining any 'red line' remains elusive. In the Strait of Hormuz, the US is leading a major naval exercise aimed at Iran.

By Staff writer / September 16, 2012

President Obama met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in New York in September 2011. The White House denies that Mr. Obama refused a request from Mr. Netanyahu to meet at the UN this week, citing conflicts in the leaders' schedules.

Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS


As the presidential election approaches, senior US and Israeli officials are playing down any differences between the countries regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

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Susan Rice, American ambassador to the United Nations, says there’s “no daylight” between the two countries, emphasizing that the Obama administration "will do what it takes" to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he won’t be drawn into the US election. “I will say that we value, we cherish, the bipartisan support for Israel in the United States, and we're supported by Democrats and Republicans alike,” he says.

Ambassador Rice and Mr. Netanyahu were speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday at a time when relations between Netanyahu and President Obama have been strained over Israel’s call for a “red line” regarding Iran, beyond which military action directed at Iran’s nuclear facilities would become inevitable.

Although Netanyahu professes neutrality when it comes to US domestic politics, it is well known that he has a close and warm relationship with GOP challenger Mitt Romney. They met as corporate advisers together in Boston in the 1970s, and they have been friends ever since.

Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) of California chided the Israeli prime minister for his reported criticism of Mr. Obama.

“Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel’s closest ally and does not stand by Israel?” Senator Boxer wrote to Netanyahu. “Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history, including for the Iron Dome Missile Defense System?”

“As other Israelis have said, it appears that you have injected politics into one of the most profound security challenges of our time – Iran’s illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Boxer wrote, noting that she is “one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress.”
But now Netanyahu plays down any differences he may have with Obama, asserting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that Mr. Romney's accusation about Obama having “thrown Israel under the bus,” as Romney once put it, is "simply not the case and simply not my position."


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