- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

President Obama discussed with Israel’s president Wednesday a deal for more U.S. military aid, while the Israeli leader said his country is not waging war against Islam.

During his first meeting with Mr. Obama, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made reference to the furor over anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. in the wake of last week’s Islamic State-inspired massacre in California.

“We have no war with Islam,” Mr. Rivlin told reporters during the Oval Office meeting. “We have war against those who are using ideas in order to create extremism and threats to the whole innocent people in the world.”

He told Mr. Obama, “We are very grateful to you about your declaration about the need to fight extremism, whatever and wherever it is.”

Mr. Obama said they discussed the Islamic State and “the challenges that we all face from terrorism [and] the challenges that we all face from instability in the Middle East.”

Another agenda item was “ways in which we can be helpful in tamping down tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Obama said.

“I’ve been clear in condemning the violence that is recurring inside of Israel; the need for leaders like [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to unequivocally condemn the violence that’s been taking place, the need to end incitement, but also the need for Israelis and Palestinians to find mechanisms in which to dialogue and arrive at peace,” Mr. Obama said. “And although, obviously, this is a time at which the prospects of serious peace may seem distant, it’s important that we continue to try.”

The two leaders discussed a pending 10-year package of increased U.S. military aid for Israel. Mr. Obama said the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is “one of the most important principles of American foreign policy — one that is shared by Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Later, Mr. Rivlin joined Mr. Obama for a lighting of Hanukkah candles at a White House reception.

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