Obama Congratulates Netanyahu, Highlights 'Deep and Abiding Partnership'

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President Barack Obama has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his reelection on Tuesday.

The call- or lack thereof - became the subject of controversy on Wednesday, when Republicans criticized Obama for failing to reach out to Netanyahu immediately after his surprisingly robust victory Tuesday night. The two leaders have had a notably strained relationship in recent years, exacerbated by an ongoing dispute over U.S. involvement in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

"The President emphasized the importance the United States places on our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel, which reflects the deep and abiding partnership between both countries," the White House said in a readout of the call.

Shortly before his election victory, Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state would not exist while he is in power, a reversal that stood starkly at odds with long-standing American goals for Middle East peace.

The White House says that Obama "reaffirmed the United States’ long-standing commitment to a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and viable Palestine" during his call with Netanyahu Thursday afternoon.

— Carrie Dann

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