Obama refuses to meet Netanyahu during his visit to U.S.

White House says scheduling and election campaign are reasons for not having a meeting. WH decision comes after Netanyahu’s declaration that those (the WH) who don’t place “red lines” on Iran, have no right to give Israel a “red light.”


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not meet US President Barack Obama when he visits the United states later this month for the UN General Assembly in New York. Obama will not be in New York during the three-day period Netanyahu is visiting, and noted that the US president is in the middle of an election campaign.

Netanyahu and Obama. - Photo: Jim Young/ Reuters

Netanyahu and Obama. – Photo: Jim Young/ Reuters

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu would be willing to travel to Washington DC to meet Obama, but the White House countered that it didn’t think that would be possible.

Netanyahu has met with Obama on all his US trips since 2009.

Tension between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran burst into the open earlier Tuesday when Prime Minister Netanyahu said that those who do not place “red lines” in front of Iran have no moral right to put a “red light” in front of Israel when it comes to military action.

Netanyahu’s comments came in the wake of statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday, and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday, that the US had no intention of putting either red lines or deadlines in front of the Iranians.

Clinton said that the US was not setting deadlines, and Nuland expanded that by saying that it was “not useful” to be “setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines.”

Netanyahu, speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, said that diplomacy and sanctions, while they have hurt the Iranian economy, have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program.

“The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs,” he said. “If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference towards obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities and from there nuclear bombs.”

The world, Netanyahu said, tells Israel to wait, and that there is still time. “And I say wait for what? Wait until when? Those in the international community who refuse to put deadlines in front of Iran do not have the moral right to put a red light before Israel.”

Iran must understand that there are red lines so it stops its nuclear program, he added.

While government officials have spoken anonymously in recent days and weeks of a frustration with US policy on Iran, these were the toughest public comments yet by the prime minister on the matter. Since the beginning of the month he has said repeatedly that red lines needed to be established, and that this was possibly one way to avoid the need for other action.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday night that “Israel reserves the right and the responsibility to make decisions, as necessary, with respect to its security and future, and the US respects this.”

“Despite the common purpose [between the two countries], there are certain differences between Israel and the US with regard to certain positions. But these are best dealt with behind closed doors,” Barak said.

“Do not forget that the US is Israel’s main ally. We have intimate relations in the intelligence field, and the US is Israel’s most important supporter in the security field,” Barak said.

“The foundation of this relationship is a long standing friendship and shared values between Israel and the American people,” he said.

“In spite of the differences, and the importance of maintaining Israel’s right to act independently, we have to remember the importance of our partnership with the US we should not everything possible not to harm it,” he said.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=284709