Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hosted US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro at his
Jerusalem office on Wednesday to personally assure him that he wanted to work
closely with US President Barack Obama, just hours after the American leader was
elected to his second term in office.
Netanyahu issued a congratulatory
statement as soon as Obama finished making his acceptance speech at his campaign
headquarters in Chicago.
“I congratulate US President Barack Obama on his
victory in the elections,” Netanyahu said. “The strategic alliance between the
United States and Israel is stronger than ever.”
He echoed those words
when he spoke in person with Shapiro.
“I think the United States of
America again demonstrated why it’s the greatest democracy on earth. The
security relationship between the United States and Israel is rock solid,”
Netanyahu said. “I look forward to working with President Obama to further
strengthen this relationship and I look forward to working with him to advance
our goals of peace and security.”
Shapiro thanked Netanyahu on behalf of
Obama and the American people.
“Americans are very proud of our
democratic system and values and our free elections,” he said.
Israelis share those values. The president has enjoyed close security
cooperation with you and your government in his first term and we look forward
to continuing it in the second term.”
The last four years have been
marked by tension between Obama and Netanyahu.
This was highlighted by
the impression given to the Israeli and American public that Netanyahu would
have preferred to see Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney enter the White
It was underscored by reports that the same American Jewish donors
had contributed to Netanyahu and Romney.
Clips of Netanyahu also appeared
in some political advertisements for Romney.
Obama and Netanyahu have
clashed on issues relating to the two-state solution and the timeline for
considering a military option against Iran.
One satirical Facebook
posting on Wednesday showed Netanyahu with a somber face on the phone saying, “Who is this?” The next shot
is of a smiling Obama, with his feet on the desk, saying, “It’s me
But on Wednesday, as part of a new message of unity with Obama,
the Likud Party sent out a statement to its politicians, some of whom have been
quite vocal against Obama, that all comments with regard to the elections must
be coordinated with the Prime Minister’s Office.
Shapiro spoke a number
of times Wednesday with the media in order to hammer home the message that Obama
has Israel’s back.
In Tel Aviv, he told reporters, “The relationship
between the president and the prime minister is a good
“They work very well together. They meet
frequently. They met nine or 10 times. They spoke on the phone
regularly. Their teams work extremely well together. I know that
President Obama looks forward to an opportunity to visit Israel,” said
He did not provide a date or a time when such a visit might take
“Visits are an important part of the relationship. But the work
goes on every single day between them and their governments,” he
There is some speculation a meeting will only take place between
the two leaders after the Israeli election, possibly in March, if Netanyahu
travels to the AIPAC conference.
On Channel 10, Shapiro also tried to
assuage Israeli fears with regard to Obama’s position on a nuclear Iran on
Wednesday night. He said that the US president was committed to halting Tehran’s
program, which was harmful to both Israeli and American security and could spark
a nuclear arms race in the region.
“The US is not going to allow Iran to
acquire nuclear weapons. We have built the strongest international coalition and
the toughest sanctions ever against Iran. They are having real economic impact,”
he said. “We have a diplomatic process that gives the Iranians an opportunity to
steer off this course and into compliance with international
“We also have a military option that is on the table and
available, should that be necessary.
The president has been very clear
that he will use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons,” Shapiro said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not need
assurances from anyone with regard to Obama.
He issued his congratulatory
statement even before the US president delivered his acceptance speech.
According to Channel 2 reporter Udi Segal, he was the first to do so.
have no doubt that the Obama administration will continue its policy whereby
Israel’s security is at its very foundations, as well as its efforts to tackle
the challenges facing all of us in the region, all the while continuing to
strive for further progress in the peace process,” Barak said.
that in the tradition of deep friendship and with a backdrop of shared
experiences accrued with President Obama, it also will be possible to overcome
any differences in stance should they arise.”
During the US election
campaign, Barak was quite vocal about his support for Obama.
to see Romney when the Republican presidential contender visited Israel this
While Israeli leaders were busy giving Romney the red carpet
treatment, Barak issued a statement via CNN that he believed no other president
had done more than Obama to provide for Israel’s security.
Barak distributed to the media photos of himself with Obama, as well as a video
clip from the CNN interview.
President Shimon Peres, who is traveling in
Moscow, sent Obama a letter Wednesday which he addressed, “Dear
Mr. President, Dear Friend.”
Peres said the friendship, values and
principles that linked the two countries were “historical and
“I thank you for your unprecedented commitment and support
for the security of Israel in your first term,” Peres wrote.
“I know that
the United States, under your leadership, will continue to do so in the future.
Your success will be the success of us all,” he said.