Netanyahu, Obama look to move past personal tensions

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama will meet Monday to put aside their rocky personal relationship and move past the Iran nuclear deal with multi-billion-dollar talks on defense.

The two have not met since October 2014, and deep disagreement over the July accord between Iran and major world powers provoked bitter exchanges between the traditional allies both before and after it was reached.

Netanyahu has also faced pressure, including from the United States, to renew peace efforts after a wave of terrorism that began in October raised fears of a new Palestinian uprising.

Obama and Netanyahu are known to have testy personal ties, not least because of the right-wing Israeli premier’s courting of Republicans – the US president’s opponents – including in a speech to Congress in March not coordinated with the White House.

But analysts say the two seem determined to turn the page with a businesslike meeting and signal that the two countries’ long-lasting alliance remains unshakeable.

“They will not fall in love with each other,” said Zvi Rafiah, a longtime consultant on US affairs and former congressional specialist at Israel’s Washington embassy.

However, “I’m sure (Netanyahu) understands exactly the value of this visit and the value of the United States.”

The White House has sought to downplay personal feelings, with spokesman Josh Earnest saying they were “not nearly as important as their ability to work together to advance the national security interests of the two countries that they lead.”