John McCain says US and Israel drifting apart on Iran issue

Senator makes comments after meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

US Republican Senator John McCain speaking in Jerusalem in February 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
US Republican Senator John McCain speaking in Jerusalem in February 2012 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel and the United States government strongly disagree on the best way to contain the Iranian nuclear threat, US Senator John McCain said Tuesday in Jerusalem, after having discussed the issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other key officials.

“There clearly is a significant tension that now exists on how to approach that whole issue,” McCain, a senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, told reporters in Jerusalem. “We believe there is very little doubt that Iran has so far been undeterred to get nuclear weapons. Whether they have actually made a decision or not, they’re on the path by assembling all the necessary components for a nuclear weapon, and that is something that is unacceptable to us and must be stopped.”

The senator and four other US senators are currently visiting the region. In Israel, they had lunch with Netanyahu and met with other senior officials.

“Not surprisingly, our conversations focused on the threat posed by the Iranian regime and how we must meet it together as allies. There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the threat. Unfortunately, though, there clearly is some,” said McCain, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee.

McCain declined to further comment on the recent comments by senior US military and intelligence officials advising Israel not to strike Iran.

“But obviously it’s not helpful if there is a well-publicized tension between the US and Israel. We would like to see the United States and Israel agree on course of action that will lead us toward a goal we both share,” he said.

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