Rivlin urges Netanyahu to repair ties with Obama

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to repair the damaged relations with President Barack Obama.

“I think they are very similar in nature, and are able to upset each other,” Rivlin told the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot in an interview, one of several he gave this week to the Israeli media. “But it is not good they annoy each other at the expense of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“There are three principles to Israel’s foreign policy,” Rivlin told the Hebrew-language Haaretz newspaper. “First, relations with the U.S.; second, relations with the U.S.; and the third principle — relations with the U.S.

“We also need the world, even though many times we don’t agree with it,” he said.

On Thursday, both newspapers reported excerpts of the interviews, which come at the end of Rivlin’s first year in office; the full articles will appear in the Friday editions. The interviews come as Obama is trying to secure congressional approval of the Iran nuclear deal reached last month between Iran and six major powers. Netanyahu is working to counter the agreement, which offers sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions. Both leaders have addressed representatives of the Jewish community in the last week.

“The prime minister has waged a campaign against the U.S. as if the two sides were equal,” Rivlin told Maariv, according to its sister newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. “And this is liable to hurt Israel itself. I must say that he understands the U.S. better than I do, but, nonetheless, I must say that we are quite isolated internationally.”

Rivlin acknowledged that Israel is “in great crisis” over two attacks last week: the firebombing of a Palestinian home that left a baby dead, and the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem gay pride parade that left a teenage girl dead.

The Israeli president spoke out against the attacks and received threats in return, but told Maariv, “I’m not afraid of them, and I won’t be deterred by them.”

“The perpetrators of these acts hurt us more than anyone else,” Rivlin told Yediot. “If we’re all silent about these things, we’re all complicit.”

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