President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded jabs Monday as the leaders met in Washington, both aware that the window for a negotiated peace deal was closing.
Netanyahu bluntly told Obama that Israelis expected their leader not to compromise on their security. His comments came as Obama sought to reassure him on Iran diplomacy and put pressure on him for Middle East peace talks.
"The Israeli people expect me to stand strong against criticism and pressure," Netanyahu told reporters during a brief joint appearance Monday.
But facing a U.S.-imposed April deadline, the Israeli leader added, "Israel has been doing its part and, I regret to say, the Palestinians have not."
Netanyahu's comments underscored the slim prospects of reaching an agreement to the long-running conflict, despite a robust effort led by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Despite the bleak outlook, Netanyahu said Monday the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a turn on the old James Bond line: “It’s stirred but not shaken. It’s unshakeable.”
On Sunday, Obama urged the Israeli prime minister to “seize the moment” to make peace during an interview with Bloomberg View, once again saying that time is running out to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
In his remarks, Netanyahu referred to what he says he sees as a threat from Iran, an enemy of the Jewish state.
"I as the prime minister of Israel will do whatever I must do to defend the Jewish state," Reuters reported Netanyahu as saying.
Obama is seeking room for diplomacy with Iran, while Netanyahu says sanctions on Tehran are being eased prematurely.
“We don’t see changes in Iranian behavior,” Netanyahu said. “It’s something that ought to be stopped … it ought to be stopped for peace.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.