Rivlin, Netanyahu meet for first time in over two months
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Rivlin, Netanyahu meet for first time in over two months

Last meeting between the two was on July 17; relations said strained after president rebukes PM’s foreign policy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) seen with President Reuven Rivlin (right) at the opening session of the 20th Knesset, March 31, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) seen with President Reuven Rivlin (right) at the opening session of the 20th Knesset, March 31, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin met Friday for the first time in over two months.

The president revealed earlier this month that he had not met with the prime minister since July 17. Until then, the two had met at least once a month since Rivlin’s election last year.

Relations between the two have been particularly strained since Rivlin openly criticized Netanyahu for his combative stance toward US President Barack Obama.

Whereas Netanyahu reportedly met with Rivlin’s predecessor, Shimon Peres, every two weeks over dinner, Rivlin indicated the disagreements over Netanyahu’s foreign policy were the cause of the current disconnect.

“I think we’ve said [to each other] everything that can be said — not about the Iranian issue, but about our relations with the international community,” Rivlin told Army Radio in an interview in early September, when asked why the two had not met since mid-July.

In July, Rivlin chastised Netanyahu’s policy toward Washington. “Israel has three things it must ensure — its relationship with the United States, its relationship with the United States, and its relationship with the United States,” stated the president.

He reiterated the criticism in another interview that week in a reference to Netanyahu’s March speech to the US Congress on the Iran nuclear deal.

“There’s no doubt we’d be very angry if the American president had come to the Knesset and argued against the government of Israel. We’d ask why we were hosting a guest who preaches for or calls to support one position or another in our [political] system,” he told Army Radio.

There is a long history of enmity between the two longtime Likud politicians. Netanyahu torpedoed Rivlin’s reelection as Knesset speaker in 2013 and worked to prevent Rivlin’s election as president last year, while Rivlin was not shy about criticizing Netanyahu and other cabinet ministers during his term as speaker.

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