Top Stories
Top Stories

Obama needs to fix Israeli relations: former UN ambassador

Middle East's 'battle for influence'

The U.S. and Israel need to do "whatever it takes" to fix their damaged relations, former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson said Friday.

"We have to come back together because they're our anchor in the Mideast," the former energy secretary in the Clinton administration said in a CNBC "Squawk Box " interview. "Our beachfront is Israel. They're our strongest ally. This relationship needs to be repaired."

The push by Palestinians to go to the U.N. for recognition of an independent state rather than through peace talks with Israel has emerged as a friction point with Israel. President Barack Obama said Tuesday the U.S. is weighing whether to support that effort.

"When I was at the U.N.," Richardson recalled, "the vetoes I cast were always for Israel. Now the two-state solution is possible, that we'll back in the Security Council. It's totally inconceivable."

The six-nation nuclear talks with Iran, which include the U.S., have also put a strain on relations with Israel.

Read MoreIran talks success and failure—both risky: Eurasia

Richardson said he can see where Israel is coming from regarding Iran.

"Israel's neighborhood is a real threat to them, the whole neighborhood." He, too, worries about Iran's support of Hamas and Hezbollah and the rebels in Yemen—not to mention Iran's detention of a U.S. Marine and a Washington Post reporter.

But Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, recognizes the U.S. argument that opportunity beckons to persuade Iran to curtail its nuclear ambitions. "We're [also] on the same side as Iran in Iraq against ISIS."

As for the Saudi Arabia-led military strikes in Yemen, he said, "What I worry about with this Yemen conflict … [is] a dramatic effect on oil prices if something goes bad for the Saudis."

"What happens if the Saudis start losing?" he asked. "We have military bases there. We have the energy relationship. They are a source of great stability."

Oil prices were lower in early trading Friday—reversing sharp gains Thursday as concerns eased about a disruption to crude supplies due to those Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Morning Squawk

CNBC's before the bell news roundup
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services.
By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

—Wire services contributed to this report.