President Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Monday, just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to “accelerate” talks with Iran over a nuclear deal.
"The president reaffirmed to the prime minister that the United States is focused on reaching a comprehensive deal with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and verifiably assures the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” the White House said in a statement.
Kerry said he planned to meet later this week in Geneva with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a bid to give talks with Tehran a boost.
"The meeting is calculated to take stock, number one, and to provide direction to our teams, number two, and to hopefully be able to accelerate the process to make greater progress,” Kerry said earlier Monday.
Negotiators have twice failed to reach a deadline on a comprehensive deal, under which the U.S. would roll back economic sanctions in exchange for a dismantling of the Iranian weapons program.
Netanyahu has repeatedly voiced skepticism over the negotiations, arguing Iran is exploiting the temporary easing of sanctions offered by the U.S. and its negotiating partners.
Obama and Netanyahu also discussed the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court. In applying to join the permanent tribunal, Palestinians appear to be seeking both recognition as a state and an avenue to challenge Israeli settlement policies and military activities as possible war crimes.
Obama told Netanyahu the U.S. did not yet believe the Palestinian Authority constituted a state, and therefore should not be recognized by the Court.
"President Obama underscored that the United States does not believe Palestinian accession to the ICC is a constructive way forward,” the White House said. "The United States continues to strongly oppose actions by both parties that undermine trust and encourages both sides to seek ways to deescalate tensions.”