WHAT BECAME abundantly clear at this year’s opening session of the UN General Assembly is that while Israeli and American leaders may share the same strategic goal – preventing a nuclear Iran – they have very different ideas on how to achieve it. So much so that rumbling friction between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama is threatening to put new strains on the special relationship.For Netanyahu, the modus operandi against Iran should be heavier sanctions accompanied by a credible threat of force; for Obama, it is maintaining the current sanctions, accompanied by dialogue on conditions for lifting them. For Netanyahu, the Iranian offer of dialogue is merely a ruse to gain time; for Obama, it is an opportunity to make the world a safer place without the use of force. For Netanyahu, the Iranian and Palestinian issues are unconnected; for Obama, an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would facilitate the formation of an American-led coalition of moderate Sunni states to curb the regional influence of Shi’ite Iran and its allies.In his UN address in late September, Obama spelled out a new Middle East policy. It was a paean to engagement, a 180-degree turnaround from the previous “pivot to Asia” and talk of retreat frothe region. He named four “core” regional interests – confronting aggression against allies; ensuring the free flow of energy; dismantling terrorist networks; and preventing the development or use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – and he declared that the US would be prepared “to use all elements of our power, including military force” to secure those interests.