US President Barack Obama (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House October 1, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Against the backdrop of a sharp public disagreement with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday pointed to US President Barack Obama’s decision to attend a ceremony at the Israeli embassy in Washington on Wednesday as a sign of the strength of the US-Israel relationship.
The White House on Friday announced that Obama would attend a ceremony at the embassy on International Holocaust Remembrance Day posthumously honoring four Righteous Among the Nations – non-Jews who helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust.
“The US president has not been at the embassy in the US for many years,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.
“This is another testament that the US-Israel relationship, despite disagreements that arise, is very strong and stable.”
Netanyahu, who met separately Thursday with US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, ridiculed the voices over the last few years saying the US-Israel relationship was collapsing.
“What has collapsed are the statements about the collapse,” he said. “What is clear is that the special relationship is manifest on many different planes.”
He said one element of the relationship is the memorandum of understanding currently being negotiated with the US that will be the framework for US security assistance to Israel for the next decade. The current 10-year MoU, which expires next year, provided Israel with some $30 billion in aid, and the one currently under negotiation is expected to be significantly larger.
Speaking of this package last week in Davos, Netanyahu acknowledged what was under discussion was a “bigger package,” but he added that it still “pales in comparison” to the enormous influx of funds Iran will receive – and be able to use to destabilize the region – as a result of the sanctions relief from the nuclear deal.
“Everyone understands that in the maelstrom that is the Middle East, with the rise of radical Islamic forces, Israel is ultimately the US’s strongest, most stable and faithful ally in the region, and this is also reflected in shared values and interests,” Netanyahu told the cabinet.
Following Kerry’s meeting with Netanyahu last week, the secretary of state told reporters that the “fight’s over” between Washington and Jerusalem over the Iran deal. And Obama’s acceptance of the invitation to attend the ceremony at the embassy is a strong signal in that direction, especially since administration officials have whispered for months that Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was largely responsible for Netanyahu’s controversial address against the Iran deal in Congress last March that infuriated the administration.
On Friday, after the announcement was made of Obama’s decision to attend the ceremony, Dermer wrote on Twitter: “I also deeply appreciate @POTUS Obama’s acceptance of our invitation to speak.
It will be a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us.”