But signaling a steady alliance between these two countries is progress, as the two leaders have not seen eye-to-eye since the Iran nuclear agreement.
“The aim of the meeting was to smooth over the relationship between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government in Israel,” said William Boettcher, professor of American foreign policy at N.C. State.
“I think there was a gap that emerged over the summer around the Iran deal. Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. Congress challenged that deal, and I think both sides saw the need to repair this disagreement.”
Boettcher said both Obama and Netanyahu approached the meeting pragmatically, with each side sacrificing to reach a compromise. Where Netanyahu ceased to further criticize the Iran deal this visit, Obama discussed reevaluating Israel’s security goals and providing more aid.
But personal differences between Obama and Netanyahu ensure that tensions will always simmer just below their surface-level cooperation.
“I don’t expect that on a personal level Netanyahu and Obama are ever going to get along,” Reardon said. “I think they just have fundamentally different world views, and they have very negative images of each other.”
Reardon said while Netanyahu views Obama as a naïve and inexperienced actor in the international stage, Obama views Netanyahu as an overly hawkish and stubborn right-wing politician.
Netanyahu’s overtly political acts within U.S. domestic politics — such as his speech against the Iran nuclear deal before Congress — as well as numerous negative statements by Netanyahu’s inner circle, further deteriorated the alliance.
Boettcher foresees more tensions emerging between the two leaders in response to events that arise within the Middle East for the remaining duration of Obama’s presidency.
“I don’t think that it’s going to be smooth sailing from here on out in terms of the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, but I think it’s dealt with the latest spike in negative feeling between the two sides,” he said.
But the alliance will likely prevail despite personality clashes between Obama and Netanyahu, Boettcher said.
“The United States and Israel are linked together by this enduring relationship, and I don’t think these personality disagreements or political concerns really undermine the overall relationship — although they do create a bit of a rocky path now and then.”