Obama, Netanyahu Talk Middle East Conflict

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, Monday.

The two new leaders tried to tackle one of the most pressing issues in the world-- the conflict in the Middle Wast. 

It was their first official meeting since the two men were elected to office.

Click play for more analysis from CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell following John Jessup's report.

"Obviously this reflects the historical relationship between us," Obama said.

the left-leaning U.S. president and his conservative Israeli counterpart are two very different men,  but sounded very much like they were on the same page, Monday.

"We don't see closely [but] we see eye to eye on this move on two fronts-- peace and preventing Iran from acquiring nuke capabilities," Netanyahu said.

In the past, the Israeli leader has criticized the stalled peace talks for a two-state solution.  After the Wwhite House meeting, he said he wanted to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately - so long as they recognize Israel's right to exist.

"I think the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, dignity and peace," he added.

The issue that forged the display of unity was Iran.

Experts say Israel's main goal was to get a sense of whether it had a strong ally in the Obama White House - or if it will be the fight alone.

"I think Netanyahu needs to know going out of there is Obama going to accept nuclear weapons in the hands of the ayotallahs of Tehran or is he going to fight back as hard as he can," said Cliff May of the Foundation of Defense of Democracies.

The president said he'll continue to try to engage Iran in diplomacy, but insisted that it cannot become a nuclear power in the region.

"Iran obtaining a nuke would not only be a threat and a threat to a U.S. [but also] set off a nuke arms race in the Middle East," Obama said.

Israel is weary of the administration's overtures to Syria and Iran, which support terrorist groups seeking Israel's destruction.

And Netanyahu is convinced that Iran, with its nuclear ambitions and its threats against Israel, must be reined in before peacemaking can go forward.

But Monday, Netanyahu tried to link Palestinians and the Jews as stakeholders with a shared threat.

"There's never been a time when Arabs and Israelis see a common thread and the need to join together in working toward peace while defending ourselves toward this common threat," he said.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.