President Obama said Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE’s speech to Congress on Tuesday, which will likely criticize the administration-supported nuclear talks with Iran, would not be “permanently destructive” to U.S.-Israel ties.

“I don’t think it’s permanently destructive, I think that it is a distraction from what should be our focus,” Obama told Reuters. “And our focus should be: How do we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?”


Last week, national security adviser Susan Rice said that the visit would be “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

But the president also said that the tension between himself and Netanyahu was not personal.

"This is not a personal issue. I think that it is important for every country in its relationship with the United States to recognize that the U.S. has a process of making policy,” Obama said, while also saying that Netanyahu had made incorrect predictions about negotiations with Iran in the past.

"Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting 50 billion dollars worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true.”

The president also said that Iran must commit to at least a "double-digit" freeze of its nuclear program in order for a deal to work, though the White House has denied reports that it's seeking a decade-long agreement.

Netanyahu’s speech has been a topic of partisan debate for weeks. At least 51 Democrats have said they don’t plan to attend the speech. They have called it disrespectful for a foreign leader to rebuke the president before Congress, and criticized Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for failing to consult the White House before offering the invitation.