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March 25, 2015 4:37 pm

AP Reporter Grills Psaki on Differing Approaches to Netanyahu, Khamenei (VIDEO)

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

AP reporter Matt Lee grilled Jen Psaki for maintaining a harsher tone for Netanyahu than with Khamanei. Photo: Screenshot.

A reporter for the Associated Press questioned State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday about the harsh tone the administration has taken towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while letting Iran’s leader “slide” for chanting “death to America” last week.

“When the Supreme Leader of Iran [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] is continuing – in the middle of these negotiations is continuing to make statements like ‘death to America,’ how is that not problematic for you?” AP reporter Matt Lee asked at the State Department’s daily briefing. “How is that not something – why are you just willing to let that – let it slide, basically, and you are holding the prime minister of Israel to comments that he made and has since changed?”

Psaki replied saying, “I think we’d hardly put the Supreme Leader and the leadership of Israel in the same category.” She added that Israel is a “strategic” and “security” partner of the US before Lee cut her off asking, “the Iranians can be trusted and the Israelis can’t? Is that what you mean?”

Psaki rejected Lee’s assertion and said America’s relationship with the Jewish state is “one that we’re committed to.” However, she added that White House believes it can’t “just forget” what Netanyahu says “when it’s conflicting with past precedent and past policy for some time.”

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“The Secretary [of State, John Kerry] has been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu. We remain committed to our relationship,” she said. “Remember, we’re not evaluating our relationship with Israel. We’re evaluating how to proceed as it relates to pursuing a two-state solution.”

The controversial comments in question were made by Netanyahu a day before the March 17 Israeli general election when he said that the current security climate was not right for the establishment of a Palestinian state. After Netanyahu’s successful reelection he clarified that he hasn’t changed his position in support of negotiating for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, a stance he adopted in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. In an interview with NBC News following the election, he called for a “sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”

Watch AP reporter Matt Lee grill State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in the video below:

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