U.S. President Barack Obama sought to reassure domestic Jewish groups on Friday about the strength of the country’s relationship with Israel, despite ongoing tensions over the nuclear deal with Iran.
"As soon as this particular debate is over, my hope is that the Israeli government will immediately want to rejoin conversations that we started long before about how we can continue to improve and enhance Israel's security in a very troubled neighborhood,” Obama said in a webcast about the international nuclear agreement, which calls for easing sanctions against Iran while taking steps to prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.
The deal has drawn strong condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called it a “historic mistake.” He rallied support among American lawmakers, largely Republicans -- when he was invited to address Congress in March -- calling for a congressional resolution that would disapprove the deal, for which a vote is set next month. The controversial speech to a joint session of Congress was criticized as a breach of protocol by the White House and Democratic leaders.
In the latest statement, Obama stressed Washington’s continued commitment to Israel, calling it “sacrosanct and non-partisan.”
"Everybody keep in mind that we're all pro-Israel,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don't impugn people's motives even as we have what is a very serious debate."
Washington has previously accused Israel of deliberately leaking secret details of the negotiations in a distorted way in order to hurt the deal. That, the While House said, led the U.S. to "reduce the exchange of sensitive information about the Iran talks" with Israel.
Leaked documents from Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, made public in February, also revealed that it believed Tehran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” contradicting Netanyahu’s 2012 statement that Iran was about a year away from being able to produce a nuclear bomb.
Earlier on Friday, Tom Carper (D-Del.) became the 30th U.S. Senator to pledge support for the nuclear deal. Supporters of the deal need the backing of 34 senators, or 146 members of the House of Representatives, to sustain a veto if the deal is disapproved.