Obama: Netanyahu issues not personal

Obama: Netanyahu issues not personal
© Getty Images

President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCould the coming 'red wave' election become a 'red tsunami'? Bottom line Barack Obama wishes a happy 58th birthday to 'best friend' Michelle MORE said Tuesday his problem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE is not personal, but rather over "substantiate" policy differences, though he was mum on reports of Israeli spying.

Obama described his relationship with Netanyahu as "very businesslike" and said he talks with the Israeli leader "all the time."

“This can’t be reduced to a matter of, let’s sit down, let’s hold hands and sing Kumbaya," he said at a news conference.

“This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a … policy difference that has great consequences.”

Obama declined to comment on reports that Israel has spied on the Iranian nuclear talks. 

“As a general rule, I don’t comment on intelligence matters in a big room full of reporters,"  he said at a news conference on Tuesday. "I think I will continue that tradition." 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Israeli intelligence spied on nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, and its government fed information to Congress in order to stir opposition to a potential deal. 

Obama pledged that if a deal is agreed to, its terms would be made available for the public to see. 

“It’s going to be there for everybody to see,” he said. “People are going to be able to lift up the hood and see what’s in there.

“There is going to be significant transparency for the whole process.”

Obama said that Israel and other world governments are regularly briefed on the Iran negotiations.

"With respect to the possibility of an agreement that ensures that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, we have not just briefed Congress about the progress or lack thereof, but we also brief the Israelis and our other partners in the region and around the world.”

Obama reiterated that he took Netanyahu “at his word” when he said that he would not support the creation of a Palestinian state under his watch. 

Even after Netanyahu walked back his comments, Obama said he does not see a path forward for meaningful talks with the Palestinians on a two-state solution. 

“There still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework established that would lead to a Palestinian state,” the president said. 

Given Netanyahu’s comments, “what we can’t do is pretend there’s the possibility of something that’s not there."

Asked whether the U.S. would depart from previous policy and back the creation of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, Obama said the administration would not conclude its “reevaluation” of its stance toward Israel until an Israeli coalition government is formed. 

— Updated at 3:55 p.m.