Netanyahu: Israel, US can work together to ensure Iran compliance on nukes

Netanyahu: Israel, US can work together to ensure Iran compliance on nukes
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said Tuesday he believes the United States can work with Israel to ensure Iran complies with the nuclear deal his government opposed.

The comments came during an address to the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, where the Israeli leader made clear that he wants to rebuild the frayed bridge between the United States and Israel.

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“Despite our disagreement over the nuclear deal with Iran, I believe that America and Israel can and should work together now to ensure that Iran complies with the deal, to curb Iran’s regional aggression and to fight Iranian terrorism around the world,” he said.

Netanyahu, in the first public address of his Washington visit, said the year “had not been simple.”

“Passions ran high and the stakes were even higher.

“But we must always remember two simple truths,” Netanyahu added: “No matter what disagreements there are between Israel and the United States, Israel has no better friend than America and America has no better friend than Israel.”

The comments, delivered to thundering applause, underscore the prime minister’s efforts to turn the page on a bitter divide with the White House over the nuclear deal with Iran.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, speaking to the same audience later in the afternoon, compared the public spat over the Iran deal to squabbling between brothers.

“Like any family, Americans and Israelis at times disagree on some things,” McDonough said, “but our bonds are unbreakable because we always remember our shared values, including our strong commitment to Israel’s security and its vitality.”

Netanyahu’s charm offensive will be put to the test later in the afternoon, when he appears before the liberal Center for American Progress, where much of the audience is likely to be critical of the prime minister.

Netanyahu’s visit to Washington was spurred by a desire to ensure additional American military aid for Israel, which he indicated he had achieved during a Monday meeting at the White House.

“Yesterday I had a wonderful discussion with President Obama about how to secure that assistance for the coming decade,” Netanyahu said, in a markedly conciliatory tone.

Netanyahu’s tone on Tuesday was at odds with his comments just a few months ago, in the heat of the debate over the Iranian nuclear accord.

In a condemnatory speech at the United Nations in October, Netanyahu warned that he would not “remain passive in the face of genocidal enemies.”  

--This report was updated at 1:52 p.m.