Rhodes: Israel Lost Valuable Time on Compensation Package

The Obama administration believes that the chapter over the Iran nuclear deal has been closed and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ready to move forward in enhancing the U.S.-Israel security relationship, White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes said on Thursday.

In an interview to Ilana Dayan on Israel’s Army Radio Thursday morning, Rhodes said that with the adoption date of the nuclear deal (October 18) nearing, even before the sanctions relief, people should be seeing Iran abiding by the terms of the deal. At that point, Israel would be ready to engage in negotiations over the compensation package and renew talks over the MOU.

The WH official  stressed that the military option remains on the table if Iran cheats in the years to come. “I am very confident that there’s no way they can sneak to a bomb under the terms of this deal,” he declared.

Asked if Obama is ready to overlook the past and start it all over, Rhodes said, “We have had ups and downs in this relationship between the president and the prime minister for years. But what Barack Obama has always done is to say that the relationship between our governments and the commitment to Israel and its security is not affected in any way.”

Adding, Obama “wants to improve our security cooperation as best we can,” and he “wants to do whatever he can to help Israel be more secure.”

Dismissing the public dispute as something that exists between the president and his political opponents, Rhodes cautioned that “the main point is that we lost some time because of the political debate and the differences between our governments since March.” But he maintained that it is not going to affect in any way how Obama approaches the U.S.-Israel relationship. “”I think we can take that back.”

He also said the administration is thinking of steps that would make “the UN less attractive” for unilateral resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, amid recent reports that the president has threatened the prime minister with not vetoing the French resolution at the UN.

As far as relaunching efforts to revive the peace process based on Sec. Kerry’s previous parameters, Rhodes conceded that the administration has already tried many formulas “and none of them have worked… we can only do so much.” He stressed that at this point, “We don’t see a ‘silver bullet’ for the United States to be able to get this to a final-status discussion. But we do believe, strongly, that there has to be a sense of hope about the possibility of a two-state solution, there has to be dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, there has to be a sense of confidence building measure that can be taken, and a formula for moving forward that the U.S. will support.”

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