After months of trading public criticisms regarding the proposed Iranian nuclear deal, President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Nov. 9.
The White House said in a statement that Obama “looks forward to discussing with the Prime Minister regional security issues, including implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to peacefully and verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and countering Tehran’s destabilizing activities.”
In March, Netanyahu addressed Congress at the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner about the Iran deal, which the Israeli leader called “very bad” and said would guarantee that Iran gains nuclear weapon capabilities.
The speech itself was controversial, as Obama was not consulted on the invitation. He called it a departure from protocol, as we previously reported.
“Obama, citing the proximity of Israel’s March 17 election, said he won’t meet the Israeli prime minister; neither will Vice President Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom are traveling. Several Democrats skipped the Israeli leader’s talk today.
“Kerry has questioned Netanyahu’s judgment regarding talks about Iran’s nuclear program; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said recently that the prime minister’s speech had ‘injected a degree of partisanship’ that is ‘destructive to the fabric of the relationship.’ ”
Since delivering his speech to Congress, Netanyahu has continued denouncing Obama’s plan to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, telling NPR’s David Greene in July that a deal with Iran would be a “historic mistake for the world.”
But now the Iran deal is all but finalized, and the announcement of Netanyahu’s visit comes a day before the Obama administration can start implementing the agreement. This would include steps to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.
Obama said in March that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress would not be “permanently destructive” to the U.S-Israeli relationship, a sentiment echoed in today’s statement.
It said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel as well as the unprecedented security cooperation, including our close consultations to further enhance Israel’s security.”
Lastly, the statement said the two leaders will address the perennial problem of “Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and the need for the genuine advancement of a two-state solution.”