Netanyahu says Obama speech at embassy is a sign of strong ties

Ron Kampeas

U.S President Barack Obama, right, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 9, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and President Barack Obama meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Nov. 9, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said President Barack Obama’s speech this week at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., should put to rest talk of dissension between the two governments.

“This is further testimony that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel are – despite disagreements that arise from time to time – very strong and steadfast,” Netanyahu said Sunday in opening remarks at the weekly Cabinet meeting in which he thanked Obama for delivering the speech.

Obama is speaking Wednesday at International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations, which will include the formal recognition of four people – including two Americans – as Righteous Among the Nations for their rescue of Jews.

“Over the past two years, and in recent years, we have heard remarks about the collapse of relations,” Netanyahu said. “What has collapsed is the talk about a collapse and what is becoming increasingly clear is that this special relationship finds expression in very many areas.”

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The Netanyahu and Obama governments clashed over the last two years over the Iran nuclear deal and the Obama administration’s failed effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Both issues are more or less settled – Obama is unlikely to make another pass at peace talks, and the nuclear rollback for sanctions relief deal went through despite Netanyahu’s efforts – and both leaders have said they want to focus on areas of agreement.

One of these is expanding U.S. assistance to Israel, currently standing at an average of $3 billion annually.

“One of these, of course, is the memorandum that we are trying to formulate, and will conclude I hope in the coming months, with the U.S. on a package of security assistance for Israel over the coming decade,” Netanyahu said.

“Everyone understands that in the end, in the whirlpool in the Middle East, with the rise of radical Islamic forces, Israel is the U.S.’s strongest, and most loyal and stable, ally in the region,” he said. “This also finds expression in the shared values and common interests that we are advancing.”

Israel’s opposition has charged Netanyahu with harming the relationship with the United States, and it was used against him in the March elections.

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