White House defends trolling Netanyahu

The White House is standing by a tweet mocking Israeli Prime Minister Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE despite concerns it could further sour relations between the two countries. 

A White House tweet defending the framework nuclear agreement with Iran contained a cartoon bomb that was nearly identical to one in a chart used by Netanyahu in a 2012 speech urging the U.S. to take a harder line against Iran’s nuclear program. 

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“Prime Minister Netanyahu has issued very strong criticisms of this deal,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Friday. “That’s entirely his right, but we are also going to issue strong defenses of this deal.

“It would make no sense for us to essentially not make our case,” Rhodes said. 

The bomb diagram published by the White House shows that the framework deal would cut and cap Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and centrifuges. Netanyahu’s chart showed Iran on a path to accumulate enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon.  

Relations between the U.S. and Israel have been strained over the nuclear talks. President Obama has said the limits on Iran’s nuclear program in the deal represent the best way to prevent it from obtaining a weapon. But Netanyahu has said that the agreement would leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state that poses an existential threat to Israel. 

The two leaders have had a series of public spats, including the Israeli leader’s speech criticizing the Iran talks in front of a joint session of Congress and Obama’s condemnation of Netanyhau’s comments on Palestinian statehood during his reelection campaign. 

Rhodes said that the two countries “have an unshakable alliance” and continue to have a strong military and security relationship. But he said their disagreement on Iran is no secret. 

“I don’t think anyone should be surprised that the United States and Israel, despite our very strong alliance and friendship, are going to be public in making our case,” he said.