Obama becomes first leader to congratulate Netanyahu on election

President Obama on Monday called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his reelection in last Tuesday's parliamentary elections, according to a White House readout of the call.


Obama is the only leader to call Netanyahu so far, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. White House spokesman Jay Carney characterized the call as “warm” during his press conference.

“This country's commitment to Israel's security is unshakable and has been reflected in this administration's commitment to Israel's security,” Carney said. “It is also the case that in his first term, there is no leader with whom this president has had more conversations than Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

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“These two leaders have spent a great deal of time together.”

Obama and Netanyahu discussed Israel's security and restarting peace talks with the Palestinians, according to the readout.

“The president indicated that the United States looks forward to working with the next government,” the readout said. “He also reiterated his commitment to the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and pledged to work closely with Israel on our shared agenda for peace and security in the Middle East.”

The congratulatory call comes almost a week after Netanyahu's Likud Party won Tuesday's legislative elections, albeit with a weakened hand. Netanyahu is reportedly considering tapping the leader of a new centrist party committed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians as his foreign minister, raising hopes in Washington that peace talks stalled since 2010 could resume.

Obama and Netanyahu have had a strained relationship during the president's first term, with some Democrats accusing the Israeli leader of interfering in U.S. politics and backing Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.