Netanyahu: Israel neutral in U.S. election

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stresses Israel will avoid any intervention on behalf of any candidate in the American election.

Ben Ariel,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would remain neutral in the U.S. presidential election campaign and avoid any intervention on behalf of any candidate.

The remarks were made in a press conference with diplomatic correspondents and quoted by Haaretz.

Netanyahu told the reporters that although he is attending the United Nations General Assembly in September he doesn't have any meetings set as yet with either candidate, the Republican Donald Trump or the Democratic Hillary Clinton.

"We are presenting both candidates with our positions but are not interfering," he stressed.

"There is no point in interfering and it's not smart to interfere," added Netanyahu.

The Israeli Prime Minister faced allegations of interfering in U.S. politics when he met Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, ahead of the 2012 presidential race, when President Barack Obama wound up being reelected.

Netanyahu did not support Romney in any perceivable way, but the dislike and disrespect that the Obama administration showed for Netanyahu throughout his first term made it easy for anti-Netanyahu media to present the PM as being pro-Romney.

In Sunday's briefing, Netanyahu also rejected arguments that Israel could have achieved a better U.S. aid package had he negotiated earlier, before the Congressional vote on the Iran deal, as President Barack Obama had suggested.

"I know what was really discussed," he said, adding that "Israel would not be left wanting."

"We are still in the process, and hope we are near its end. Reaching a military assistance agreement with this administration will send a message of multi-partisanship with regard to everything related to American support for Israel," Netanyahu said, according to Haaretz.

Netanyahu's acting national security adviser, Jacob Nagel, left for Washington on Sunday for three days of talks to try to finalize the aid deal.

The current defense agreement between Israel and the United States remains in force until 2018, and Netanyahu has been urged to accept Obama’s 10-year military aid package which reportedly includes a total of $145.8 million for Israeli missile defense programs, a sharp drop in financial support.

A total of $3 billion in defense aid is given annually, but Netanyahu has asked for an increase to $5 billion annually, in light of the greater need for security due to the growing Iranian threat after the nuclear deal.

Despite the disagreements, however, officials in Washington recently said they believe Netanyahu would sign the new memorandum of understanding with the Obama administration instead of waiting for the next president.




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