U.S. President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and congratulated him on the election results. A statement released by the White House said that Obama congratulated Netanyahu "on his party’s success in winning a plurality of Knesset seats in Israel’s recent election."
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The phone call between the two leaders took place five days after the election results were published. So far, Obama is the only foreign leader to call and congratulate Netanyahu.
Obama said in the call that he looks forward to working with Israel's next government, and stressed his deep commitment to ties between the U.S. and Israel. The president, said the White House statement, "pledged to work closely with Israel on our shared agenda for peace and security in the Middle East."
A week before the election, the troubled relationship between the two leaders was underscored by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, in a column published on the Bloomberg news website. According to Goldberg, Obama said Netanyahu “doesn’t understand what Israel’s best interests are,” and that his conduct will drive Israel into grave international isolation.
Goldberg is considered to be close to the Obama administration and on several occasions during the past four years the White House has channeled public messages through him to Israel and the prime minister – regarding both the Palestinian and Iranian issues.
In his Bloomberg column, Goldberg described the moment when President Obama was apprised of Netanyahu’s decision to advance the planning processes in the controversial E-1 area between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem. Obama, writes Goldberg, “didn’t even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.”