Israel PM steers clear of US politics after New York trip
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he believed either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would maintain strong support for Israel if elected.
Tel Aviv: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he believed either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would maintain strong support for Israel if elected, steering clear of US politics after meeting both candidates.
Netanyahu faced criticism in 2012 over what many saw as his support for US President Barack Obama`s Republican opponent Mitt Romney.
This year, the veteran prime minister and former US resident has been careful to strike a balance after coming come under fire from political opponents who accuse him of damaging relations with Israel`s most important ally.
Netanyahu returned to Israel on Monday after a trip to New York to speak at the UN General Assembly. He met both Clinton and Trump on Sunday.
The premier, speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting, said he "spoke with them at length about Israel and the region."
"Both spoke about their support of Israel and the importance of the relations between the countries," Netanyahu said.
"It doesn`t matter which of them is elected. The American support for Israel will remain strong. This bond will remain strong and even strengthen over the coming years."
During Sunday`s meeting with Netanyahu, Trump pledged to recognise Jerusalem as Israel`s "undivided" capital if elected president, which would break with decades of precedent and put the United States at odds with most UN member countries.
In her meeting, Clinton promised to help Israel confront "terrorist threats" and also said she was committed to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "negotiated directly by the parties."
Netanyahu has called for direct negotiations, while the Palestinians, frustrated with years of failed talks and Israel`s continuing occupation of the West Bank, have pursued an international strategy.
On Tuesday, the Israeli premier also acknowledged his "disagreements" with Obama, but said "these disagreements have not clouded the strong and solid relations between the countries at all."
Netanyahu vehemently opposed the Iran nuclear deal spearheaded by the United States along with other world powers.
His address to the US Congress in March 2015 to lobby against the deal angered the White House.
But the two men put aside their differences in recent months to agree on a new, decade-long $38 billion defence aid package deal for Israel, which was signed on September 14.