Updated 09/27/2012 07:04 PM
Bloomberg, Netanyahu Share Chilly Outlook On Iran Before Warm Meeting
Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu met behind closed doors with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the Upper East Side on Thursday, after Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that time is running out to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threat. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
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With his first words at Gracie Mansion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu channeled the connection he feels with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Thank you, Michael. You are indeed a champion of New York City, the United States," said Netanyahu.
They then exchanged the kind of pleasantries expected between a mayor and prime minister, before their closed-door meeting inside the mayoral residence. But like most things in Middle East politics, there's more than one level to chit-chat.
For one, the mayor seemed to publicly back President Barack Obama, with whom Netanyahu has a notoriously frosty relationship.
"I thought President Obama gave an excellent speech in the UN. And he was absolutely right to say that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons," said Bloomberg. "The U.S. and Israel are in complete agreement on that."
But there is no agreement on how far Iran can go before it is attacked.
Netanyahu criticizes Obama for not specifying those red lines, lines the prime minister literally drew on a picture of a bomb earlier that day at the United Nations General Assembly.
Later, at Gracie Mansion, the prime minister seemed to flash impatience, even irritation.
"It's important to be clear and unambiguous about our determination to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," said Netanyahu. "I've often found myself saying things that ultimately are accepted, and are seen as necessary."
Playing the diplomat, Bloomberg calls Netanyahu's case "compelling."
"I'm sure that the U.S. and Israel can work out a common policy in the interests of both nations, and in the interests of peace," the mayor said.
Bloomberg's meeting with Netanyahu came after the prime minister was unable to secure a face-to-face meeting with Obama in New York. That triggered new criticism from Republicans that the president has not treated Israel like a true friend.
That mistrust of Obama when it comes to Israel can often be heard among American Jews, who traditionally vote Democratic, which worries the president's campaign.
NY1 asked Bloomberg whether he shares the feeling Obama has not been good enough to Israel. He did not answer.
Neither did Netanyahu, when asked by NY1 of the differences he may have with Obama.