CBS’ Major Garrett Grills Earnest: Does Obama View Netanyahu Same as Putin?

In an attempt to tamp down concerns over his increasingly contentious relations with newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama said this week that their disputes concern policy differences and are not “personal,” adding that they have “a very businesslike relationship.” But judging by today’s White House press briefing, it didn’t work.

CBS News’ Major Garrett pointed out to White House Press Secretary that the only other world leader with whom Obama has said he has a “businesslike” relationship is Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I’m seriously asking you if President Obama views Benjamin Netanyahu in the same light that he views Vladimir Putin,” Garrett said on Friday.

Earnest declined to “dissect” the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, instead pointing to the president’s assertion that the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is more important that his relationship with that country’s leader. He said our “shared values” with Israel make it “our most important ally in the Middle East.”

When pressed by Garrett on his original question, Earnest would not answer directly but instead focused on the difference between America’s relations with Israel vs. Russia. When the president communications with any leader, Earnest said he is “doing so to advance the interests of the United States” and that will continue to be his “primary focus.”

Watch video below, via The White House:

[Photo via screengrab]

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