Benjamin Netanyahu Visits the White House to Press Against U.S.-Iran Talks
Only days following a phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Obama met his Israeli counterpart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday morning. Obama's first visit to Israel last March was paved in smiles, a charismatic offering to demonstrate U.S. commitment to security in Israel. But Monday's visit in Washington was far from courtesy: the most pressing item on the schedule was undoubtedly Netanyahu's discontent with the new diplomatic advances between the United States and Iran.
The direct conversation between U.S. and Iran's leadership was the first between the two countries' leaders since diplomatic relations were cut off in 1979. The historic moment marked Iran's interest in re-engaging with the West. Not surprisingly, however, the moment was far from welcomed by Netanyahu, calling the latest developments a "smiley campaign" Iran was using to court the U.S. into a tempting relationship.
Prior to his meeting at the White House and his speech a the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu expressed sheer discontent with the budding friendship: "I will tell the truth in the face of sweet-talk and the onslaught of smiles." Some say this was before he boarded his flight for the U.S., others say he tweeted it while flying 11,000m in the air. Someone could make a lot of money flipping this into a storybook.
It is however, an exciting day for diplomacy-aficionados. The prime minister's visit to the United States is bringing together a number of exciting events and characters. Just Monday morning, Israeli President Shimon Perez echoed Netanyahu's frank and hawkish rhetoric during his speech at the Hague, where he stated that "all options" are being kept open in forcing Iran to give up its nuclear program. Also on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that both the U.S. and Israel "share a common goal" of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. In an interview with Israel Radio, he stated that "the main objective of these [countries] is to thwart Iran's drive to nuclear weapons."
What actually happened in the meeting, as well as Netanyahu's arguments against Iran's nuclear program, will have to wait until his speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. But as long as markers and drawings are part of the Prime Minister's presentation, anticipate some dramatic dialogue and an intense speech.