President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet early next week to begin work on a new 10-year agreement outlining Washington's military aid and assistance to Tel Aviv, administration officials said.
The existing one doesn't expire until late 2017, but talks about renewing it faltered when Israel objected to the U.S.-led nuclear deal Iran struck with six world powers, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday. The administration sees Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week as an opportunity to restart the process.
"[W]hat we're hoping that we can do is to lay the groundwork to renew those talks and get those going again," Earnest said. Obama "said that the early consideration of the next memorandum of understanding would be an indication of the depth of not just this administration's, but this country's commitment to Israel's national security."
Administration officials downplayed the fallout from the disagreement over Iran on Netanyahu's and Obama's relationship. They said Netanyahu's very public and vocal criticism of the deal doesn't change the unique relationship the two countries share.
Netanyahu "is entitled to his opinion," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor, said on Thursday. Furthermore, it's "OK to disagree with friends," he said. The two leaders can have different views but that doesn't lessen Obama's commitment to Israeli security, he said.