President Barack Obama is comparing tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the Iranian nuclear deal to a family feud and says he expects “quick improvements” in ties between the longtime allies once the accord is implemented.
“Like all families, sometimes there are going to be disagreements,” Obama said Friday in a webcast with Jewish Americans. “And sometimes people get angrier about disagreements in families than with folks that aren’t family.”
The president’s comments came as momentum for the nuclear accord grew on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers will vote next month on a resolution to disapprove of the deal.
The president encouraged skeptics of the agreement to “overcome the emotions” that have infused the debate and evaluate the accord based on facts.
“I would suggest that in terms of the tone of this debate everybody keep in mind that we’re all pro-Israel,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t impugn people’s motives.”
While Obama was measured in his remarks Friday, he has spoken passionately about the nuclear accord in the past, accusing those who oppose the deal of supporting war over diplomacy.
As he has in previous speeches and interviews, Obama sought to refute criticism of the accord point by point. He disputed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s contention that Iran will funnel the bulk of the money it receives from the sanctions relief into terrorism, saying Iranian leaders are more likely to try to bolster their weak economy.
Friday’s webcast was hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and The Jewish Federations of North America.
Obama also said during the conference that the U.S. and Israeli governments have been in discussions for months about security cooperation. “We’ve been in discussions with the Israeli government for months now about the importance of us getting back on track in working together to enhance our security cooperation,” Obama said.
He said that cooperation could include next-generation missile defense programs, improved intelligence and “how to counteract Iran proxies.”