WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Friday he "forcefully" objects to suggestions that policy differences between his administration and the Israeli government signal his lack of support for the longtime U.S. ally.
Speaking at one of Washington's most prominent synagogues, Obama said the U.S. and Israel should not be expected to paper over differences on Israel's settlement building or the frozen peace process with the Palestinians.
"That's not a true measure of friendship," Obama said during remarks to a crowd of about 1,200 gathered at Congregation Adas Israel.
The president's remarks come amid strains in his relationship with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over Obama's bid to strike a nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu views Iran's disputed nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel.
Obama defended the framework deal that negotiators are seeking to finalize by the end of June, saying it would make Israel and the entire region safer. Still, he said given the high stakes, he welcomes scrutiny of the negotiations.
"This deal will have my name on it," he said.
The president and Netanyahu also clashed during the recent Israeli elections over the prime minister's comments on the peace process. Netanyahu said in the lead-up to the election that he no longer backed a two-state solution, though he has reversed himself after his party's victory.
Obama also addressed what he called a "deeply disturbing rise" in anti-Semitism around the world. He said the world knows from history that this is "not some passing fad" and should not be ignored.
Obama's appearance coincided with Solidarity Shabbat, devoted to showing unity by political leaders in Europe and North America against anti-Semitism.
AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.