White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday that the Obama administration does not see Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington as bad for the negotiations between Iran and world powers.
Next week’s speech has become a point of contention between Jerusalem and Washington. Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said they would not meet with Netanyahu while he is in Washington, citing the proximity of his visit to the elections in Israel.
Netanyahu is, however, scheduled to meet Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid for a bipartisan meeting after Tuesday’s speech.
Earnest on Friday also seemed to be critical of Netanyahu, telling reporters the Israeli Prime Minister is offering no alternative but the “military option” against Iran, according to the Mondoweiss website.
He reportedly claimed that Netanyahu has “not presented an alternative” to the negotiations that the U.S. is undertaking, and added that military action will not work but will only “steel” Iran’s resolve to develop nuclear weapons and end an inspections regime that the Iranians have accepted.
The comments come several days after Kerry questioned Netanyahu’s judgment when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.
Kerry, who testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Netanyahu had been “extremely outspoken” about how bad the interim agreement between Iran and the West was and that he was ultimately wrong about it.
Kerry’s comments marked the second time in as many days that he had taken a jab at Israel and Netanyahu. A day earlier he was not as direct, not mentioning Netanyahu by name but saying that those voicing their opposition to deal being negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program are "uninformed."
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz was quick to fire back after Kerry’s second comment against Netanyahu, saying Israel has “an excellent picture of the negotiations.”
Steinitz further claimed that the information Israel has obtained so far "is why we are concerned", and stressed that “the relationship between Israel and the United States is a strategic asset, but when it comes to Israel’s security, we are also prepared to fight.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)