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Body language experts: Obama likes Peres better than Netanyahu

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have smoothed and warmed, if body language experts watching the two leaders interact this week are to be believed.

At the same time, one expert said in a Ynet News report, the hug exchanged by Mr. Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres was warmer then the one shared by Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.

"There is no doubt, at least as far as appearances go, that the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has improved greatly this time, in comparison to past meetings between the two," said Michelle Stein Teer, an expert at analyzing politicos in front of television cameras, in the Ynet report.

And yet, the president still feels closer to Mr. Peres, Ms. Stein Teer says in Ynet.

"As Obama got off the plane, there were two very interesting hugs," she said. "With Netanyahu, it was a handshake and a half hug. With Peres, he held him with both hands and hugged him. The hug he gave Peres was warmer, and you saw that President Obama has great respect, warmth and appreciation for him."

The observation should not come as a surprise to political watchers.

In June 2012, President Obama awarded Mr. Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Besides that, Mr. Peres is much more toned down in his approach to policy, and softer in his rhetoric, than Mr. Netanyahu — and in fact, the prime minister and Mr. Peres have butted heads in public on prior occasions. Most notably, perhaps, was in mid-2012, when the two Israeli leaders touted very different approaches to Iran: Mr. Peres said Israel should not strike without first obtaining U.S. support — a policy echoed by the White House. Mr. Netanyahu argued that Israel was a sovereign nation with full rights to protect itself.

"Peres forgot what he's supposed to do as president," Mr. Netanyahu's advisers said after Mr. Peres' claim went public, as reported by Haaretz.

The two leaders didn't speak for nearly a month over that conflicting policy, Haaretz said.

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