Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama met today at the white house to discuss the ongoing Middle East tensions.
According to reports by Pbs, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed each other politely but firmly Wednesday to address areas of tension in their relationship, with the U.S. president calling for an end to Palestinian civilian deaths and the Israeli leader warning of the consequences of leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities.
Obama and Netanyahu spoke to reporters before convening private discussions in the Oval Office. It’s the first time the two leaders have met since Israel’s summer war with Hamas.
Sitting alongside Netanyahu Wednesday, Obama said leaders must “find ways to change the status quo so that both Israel citizens are safe in their own homes, and schoolchildren in their schools, from the possibility of rocket fire but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.”
Much of Obama and Netanyahu’s meeting was expected to focus on the U.S-led nuclear negotiations with Iran. The U.S. and its negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have until Nov. 24 to reach a deal with Iran, though all sides say significant gaps remain.
Israel sees Iran’s attempt to build a nuclear weapon as an existential threat, and Netanyahu reiterated his skepticism that the diplomatic process will be allow Tehran to keep aspects of its program intact.
“Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu told Obama. “And I firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen.”
Obama and Netanyahu were also expected to discuss the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, an effort the Israeli leader said he “fully supports.” During a speech at the United Nations earlier this week, Netanyahu sought to draw a comparison between the Islamic State group and Hamas.
Also on the agenda for Wednesday’s talks were stalled efforts to forge peace between Israel and Palestinians. The process broke down earlier this year and there’s has been little sign that either side is eager to resume talks.