Congress to Obama: Reach out to Bibi

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SHAFAQNA – Members of Congress are urging US President Barack Obama to mend fences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following a souring in relations in the run-up to the Israeli elections. Obama told Netanyahu on Thursday that Washington will “reassess” its ties with Tel Aviv after the Israeli prime minister’s provocative statements during his reelection campaign.

Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats in parliament, against 24 for rivals in the center-left Zionist Union in Tuesday’s Israeli national election.

Netanyahu had made opposition to nuclear negotiations with Iran a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. The prime minster also rejected the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, which has been a key element of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

It took Obama two days to personally congratulate Netanyahu on his election win.

“Now that he has been elected by the people in a free and fair election, the president should reach out to him. The president should say, ‘OK, there are too many issues that are important to us’,” said Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to The Hill.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaking during a press conference at the US Capitol

Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Obama and Netanyahu’s disagreements were on “policy as well as perhaps personality.”

The New York representative said the two men should reach out to each other, noting that, “the US-Israel relationship is more important than the relationship between any two individuals.”

“Now that the election is over, continuing to mend tensions in the US-Israel relationship needs to be a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation,” said Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is considering a run for president in 2016 elections, called on Obama and Netanyahu to “try to bury some animosities and move forward.”

The senator claimed that mending fences with Israel would be difficult because the Obama White House worked against Netanyahu’s reelection.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- SC)

On Thursday, the White House raised the prospect of removing critical US diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, following Netanyahu’s divisive victory.

“Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward,” he added.

White House officials criticized Netanyahu’s “divisive rhetoric” during his campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the US Congress about Iran on March 3.

Relations between Obama and Netanyahu had already been tense since House Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio) invited the Israeli premier to address a joint session of Congress early this month without consulting with the White House.

In his speech on March 3, Netanyahu warned US lawmakers that the White House was negotiating “a very bad deal” with Iran.

President Obama did not meet with Netanyahu while the prime minister was visiting Washington.

Source : Press TV

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