President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu held a joint press conference in Jerusalem this afternoon at which they seemed to be working very hard to appear friendly with each other. The two leaders, probably attempting to overcome their reputation for having a frosty relationship, joked about their wives, their children, and nuclear redlines; President Obama repeatedly called his counterpart “Bibi,” and at one point referred to the letters of the prime minister’s brother, Yoni Netanyahu, the only Israeli commando killed in the Entebbe hostage rescue mission. Netanyahu, meanwhile, remarked that “people should get to know President Obama the way I’ve gotten to know him.”
On a more serious note, the president offered a firm guarantee that the “security of Israel is non-negotiable.” Obama also promised another $200 million in support for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, and announced the extension of the U.S.-Israeli military alliance beyond its current expiration date in 2017. He reaffirmed that America does not have a “policy of containment on Iran” and will work to prevent the country’s nuclearization. Netanyahu expressed faith on that point, saying “I’m absolutely convinced that the president is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
The president also took the time to note “a milestone . . . the first year in four decades when not a single Israeli citizen lost their life because of terrorism emanating from the West Bank” — but there’s more to that story. The region has not magically become safer — in reality, there was a 42 percent rise in terrorist attacks in the West Bank last year, but luckily no one has been killed.