U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed “the unbreakable bond” between the U.S. and Israel while celebrating Chanukah with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Wednesday.
The two presidents held a private meeting before attending a Chanukah celebration that included lighting the White House menorah. At their meeting, Obama told Rivlin the U.S. wanted to be helpful in reducing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, which have recently peaked in a spate of stabbings and other violent attacks lasting several months.
Obama said it was critical for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “unequivocally condemn” the attacks, fight incitement, and pursue dialogue with Israel.
“Although obviously this is a time at which the prospects of serious peace may seem distant, it’s important that we continue to try,” Obama said in the Oval Office.
Rivlin stressed at the beginning of the meeting that, “Israel has no greater friend than the U.S. and I want to say this loud and clear. The people of Israel thank you from the bottom of our heart.”
On the agenda for the meeting were discussions about renewing a 10-year security agreement that could lead to more U.S. military assistance to Israel. Obama said he also planned to discuss terrorism with Rivlin.
On the topic of terrorism, Rivlin noted that “we have no war with Islam. We have war against those who are using ideas in order to create extremism and threats toward the whole innocent people of the world.”