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Obama calls Netanyahu to express condolences

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama sent his condolences to Benjamin Netanyahu over the death of the Israeli prime minister’s father.

A statement Wednesday from the White House said Obama called Netanyahu from Air Force One to express his personal condolences on the passing of Benzion Netanyahu.

"In the call, the president noted Benzion Netanyahu’s remarkable legacy of service to the Jewish people and deep friendship with the United States," the statement said.

Obama was airborne because he was returning from Afghanistan, where he announced a decision to draw down troops by 2014.

The elder Netanyahu spent a number of years in the United States, as a history professor and lobbying in the 1940s on behalf of Jews caught in Nazi Europe and for a Jewish state.

Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential candidate, delivered his condolences in a statement Monday.

“I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Benzion Netanyahu," Romney’s statement said. "Not only was he the father of my friend Benjamin, the prime minister of Israel, and the father of Israel’s hero of the Entebbe raid, Yonatan Netanyahu, he was also a distinguished historian and leader in his own right.  This is a loss for all of Israel and for all who care about Israel.”

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