Netanyahu plays down tensions with US

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said US Vice President Joe Biden’s impending visit demonstrated the strong ties between the “close allies”.

“This visit expresses the strong relations between Israel and our ally the US,” Netanyahu told his cabinet here.

“There are those who have predicted the collapse of these relations — it is not so,” he said, in an apparent reference to his rocky relations with President Barack Obama over Netanyahu’s opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, Xinhua news agency reported.

Biden, who will arrive in Israel on Tuesday, will also visit the Palestinian National Authority, Jordan, and the UAE. His visit comes amidst fears of escalation in the wake of a six-month-long wave of bloody violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Whereas both Israel and the US officials stress the strong security-related cooperation, diplomatic relations have been strained in recent years.

Most of the tensions have surrounded the different approaches towards the nuclear deal signed by world powers and Iran, with Netanyahu vocally objecting to the agreement signed between world countries and Iran, calling it a “historic mistake”, whereas the US stood by the agreement.

The US government had also recently deplored Israel for its policies towards Palestinians in the occupied territories in the West Bank, as well as a wave of right-wing legislation against left-wing organisations.