Top US official warns Israel tensions could last until 2016

PARIS: A top US official Tuesday warned that the current tensions between traditional allies US and Israel could last until the end of the Obama administration in 2016.

“There are moments of significant agreement and then there are moments of tactical disagreement,” US deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken told French radio station Europe 1.

“That’s the nature of things and I imagine that will continue for the last two years of the Obama administration,” added Blinken, who spoke in French.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is poised to go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for another round in an increasingly heated battle with the White House over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Obama on Monday lashed out at the Israeli prime minister, pointing to Netanyahu’s attacks on a previous interim US-Iran deal that paved the way for this week’s ongoing talks in Switzerland.

Blinken stressed that Obama had spent more time in contact with Netanyahu than any other world leader but warned that the Israeli prime minister’s speech could have “a bit of a corrosive effect” on ties.

“It does not create trust,” said the diplomat, stressing nevertheless that “the US commitment to Israel’s security will not change.”

Blinken also called for a “political transition” in Syria that would eject President Bashar al-Assad from power.

“Assad is an enormous problem. He has lost his legitimacy. He has lost the ability to lead his country. There needs to be a political transition to remove him from power,” said the official.