Updated 8:28 pm ET
The White House today offered unconditional support to Israel in the wake of Wednesday’s murder of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, a possible sign of a toughening U.S. stance toward Iran and tightening ties with Israel.
Obama, who has had his share of run ins with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and been criticized for harboring too much empathy for Israel’s enemies today lined the United States up firmly behind America’s closest ally in the Middle East.
Perhaps this represents some evolution in Obama’s view of Israel and a recognition that the Jewish state is the one ally the United States can count on amid the upheaval, instability, and violence among Israel’s hostile neighbors. Perhaps this is a recognition of the need for Jewish votes during an election year.
But either way, it’s a commendable response by the president.
Obama made a point to call Netanyahu Wednesday to offer support, express condolences, and offer to help find out who is responsible for the crime.
But speaking to reporters today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not cast doubt on the Israeli assertion that it was Iran that perpetrated the act:
I would note as a general principle that Hezbollah has backed, and Iran has backed terrorist actions against innocent people in third countries in the past.
Pressed repeatedly to say whether the United States was concerned about Netanyahu’s determination to retaliate against Iran, Carney declined to issue a call for restraint:
I think that we will work with and provide assistance to both Israel and Bulgaria in the effort to find out who was responsible for the attack in Bulgaria and to hold accountable the responsible party or parties.
But Carney didn’t suggest any other suspects, and vowed continued pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program.