President Barack Obama defended his handling of tensions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a “60 Minutes” segment that contrasted his style with that of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s.
On the same show, which aired Sept. 23, Romney criticized Obama for turning down Netanyahu’s request for a meeting in New York this week at the U.N. General Assembly, calling it “a mistake” that “sends a message throughout the Middle East that somehow we distance ourselves from our friends.”
Netanyahu pressed for a meeting with Obama because of accelerating tensions with Iran.
Obama’s aides noted that the president was scheduled to leave New York before Yom Kippur, while Netanyahu arrives afterward. They also pointed out that Obama has not scheduled any one-on-one meetings with foreign leaders during the General Assembly.
Obama told the CBS news magazine that he has conversations with Netanyahu “all the time,” and said Israel is “one of our closest allies in the region.” — jta