PM assures Shapiro he wants to work with Obama

Netanyahu meets Shapiro, praises US-Israel security cooperation.

Netanyahu and Shapiro 370 (photo credit: Courtesy PMO)
Netanyahu and Shapiro 370
(photo credit: Courtesy PMO)
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.
“Obviously 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 House.
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 again.”
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 relationship.”
“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 Shapiro.
He did not provide a date or a time when such a visit might take place.
Click here for special JPost coverage
Click here for special JPost coverage
“Visits are an important part of the relationship. But the work goes on every single day between them and their governments,” he said.
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 obligations.”
“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.
“I 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.
“I believe 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.
He declined to see Romney when the Republican presidential contender visited Israel this summer.
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.
On Wednesday, 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 unbreakable.”
“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.