Boehner, left, and Netanyahu last month in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
When Speaker John A. Boehner announced he would lead a congressional delegation to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many believed it was another effort to undermine the efforts of President Barack Obama’s administration to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.
But fans of the Boehner-Netanyahu bromance might have been disappointed by the two leaders’ news conference Wednesday; it lasted all of four minutes, and Boehner said less than 200 words — none of them in opposition to an Iranian nuclear deal, and hardly any of them even substantive.
Boehner avoided the word “Iran,” opting for a more ambiguous allusion to threats in general. (The Ohio Republican, who has been leading a congressional delegation around the Middle East, said the message members received while in the region was, “You can’t continue to turn your eye away from the threats that face all of us.”)
But Boehner didn’t exactly offer his most full-throated defense of Netanyahu’s position that a nuclear deal with Iran is a bad idea. In fact, Boehner noted the United States and Israel “may have political disagreements from time to time,” though he immediately followed that pronouncement by saying, “the bonds between our two nations are strong and they’re going to continue to be strong.”
Netanyahu, for his part, was characteristically chummy with Boehner — he repeatedly referred to him as “John” — and the recently re-elected prime minister hammered home the strong, special bond between Israel and the United States.
“In this violent and unstable region, where states are imploding and fanaticism is exploding, one thing remains rock solid: Our friendship, our alliance, our partnership,” Netanyahu said.
“So let me use this opportunity of your visit to reiterate something that I’ve said before but needs to be said again and again,” Netanyahu said. “The people of Israel know that we have no better friend in the world than the United States of America. And the American people should know that they have no better friend in the world than the state of Israel.”
Meanwhile, nuclear negotiations with Iran continue and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the United States would not “abruptly” walk away from Iran talks for sake of arbitrary deadline if progress continues to be made.
The United States and Iran are part of a group of nations discussing a more permanent loosening of sanctions against Iran in return for downgrading much of its most enriched uranium and opening up nuclear facilities to inspections.
Netanyahu thrashed that potential agreement during his joint address to Congress in March, and Boehner has previously signaled he is skeptical of any deal that could be reached between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.
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