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Thu Sep 13, 2012, 12:01 PM

Benjamin Netanyahu vs. Barack Obama [View all]

By GLENN THRUSH | 9/13/12 4:35 AM EDT Updated: 9/13/12 8:14 AM EDT

President Barack Obama’s national security team had every reason to believe they’d be spared a Bibi eruption before Election Day.

Earlier this year, U.S. and Israeli officials had informally agreed to stop airing their well-documented disagreements over how to halt Iran’s nuclear program, according to two people familiar with the situation.

But on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke the tacit détente. He accused the Obama administration, albeit not by name, of going squishy on Tehran by not creating concrete benchmarks — “red lines,” he called them — for a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The latest flare-up in the tempestuous Obama-Netanyahu relationship was overshadowed Wednesday by the carnage at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But U.S. officials believe the intense debate over the allied response to Iran’s nuclear program — and the sharp personal, policy and political differences between the two leaders — rivals the perils posed by the excesses of the Arab Spring.



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