Full Transcript: US President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Press Conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

March 20, 2013 5:06 pm 0 comments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau looks on as U.S. President Barack Obama signs a guestbook. Photo: Facebook

Below is the full transcript of U.S. President Obama’s remarks at the opening of the press conference held with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the first day of Obama’s first trip to Israel as U.S. president.

President Obama: Well, thank you Prime Minister Netanyahu for your kind words and for your wonderful welcome today. And I want to express a special thanks to Sara, as well as your two sons, for their warmth and hospitality. It was wonderful to see them. I did inform the Prime Minister that they are very good looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Well, I could say the same of your daughters.

President Obama: This is true. Our goal is to improve our gene pool by marrying women who are better than we are.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to begin by congratulating you on the formation of your new government. In the United States, we work hard to find agreement between our two major parties. Here in Israel you have to find consensus among many more. And few legislatures can compete with the intensity of the Knesset. But all of this reflects the thriving nature of Israel’s democracy.

As Bibi mentioned, this is our tenth meeting. We have spent more time together, working together, than I have with any leader. And this speaks to the closeness of our two nations, the interests and the values that we share and the depth and breadth of the ties between our two peoples.

As leaders, our most solemn responsibility is the security of our people. That’s job number 1. My job as President of the United States is first and foremost is to keep the American people safe. Bibi, as Prime Minister, your first task is to keep the people of Israel safe. And Israel’s security needs are truly unique, as I’ve seen myself.

In past trips I’ve visited villages near the Blue Line; I’ve walked through Israeli homes devastated by Hezbollah rockets; I’ve stood in Sderot and met with children who simply want to grow up free from fear; and flying in today, I saw again how Israel’s security can be measured in mere miles and minutes.

As President I have therefore made it clear America’s commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable.

Today our military and intelligence personnel cooperate more closely than ever before; we conduct more joint exercises and training than ever before; we’re providing more security assistance and advanced technology to Israel than ever before. That includes more support for the missile defenses, like Iron Dome which I saw today and which has saved so many Israeli lives.

In short, and I don’t think this is just my opinion, Bibi you would share this, America’s support for Israel’s security is unprecedented and the alliance between our nations has never been stronger. That’s the sturdy foundation we built on today as we addressed a range of shared challenges.

As part of our long-term commitment to Israel’s security the Prime Minister and I agreed to begin discussions on extending military assistance to Israel. Our current agreement lasts through 2017, and we’ve directed our teams to start working on extending it for the years beyond.

I’m also pleased to announce that we will take steps to ensure that there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome. As a result of decisions that I made last year Israel will receive approximately 200 million dollars this fiscal year and we will continue to work with Congress on future funding of Iron Dome.

These are further reminders that we will help to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat.

We also discussed the way forward to a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, and I very much welcomed Bibi’s words before I spoke.

I’ll be meeting with President Abbas tomorrow, and I will have more to say on this topic in the speech that I deliver to the Israeli people tomorrow. But for now, let me just reiterate that a central element of a lasting peace must be a strong and secure Jewish state, where Israel’s security concerns are met alongside a sovereign and independent Palestinian state.

In this regard I note that last year was a milestone. The first year in four decades when not a single Israeli citizen lost their life because of terrorism emanating from the West Bank. It’s a reminder that Israel has a profound interest in a strong and effective Palestinian Authority. And as the Prime Minister’s new government begins its work we’ll continue to look for steps that both Palestinians and Israelis can take to build trust and confidence upon which lasting peace will depend.

We also reaffirm the importance of ensuring Israel’s security given the changes and uncertainty in the region. As the United States supports the Egyptian people and their historic transition to democracy, we continue to underscore the necessity of Egypt contributing to regional security: preventing Hamas from rearming and upholding its peace treaty with Israel.

With respect to Syria, the United States continues to work with allies and friends and the Syrian opposition to hasten the end of Assad’s rule, to stop the violence against the Syrian people, and begin the transition towards a new government that respects the rights of all its people. Assad has lost his legitimacy to lead by attacking the Syrian people with almost every conventional weapon in his arsenal, including Scud missiles.

We have been clear that the use of Chemical weapons against the Syrian people would be a serious and tragic mistake. We also share Israel’s grave concern about the transfer of chemical or other weapons systems to terrorists such as Hezbollah, that might be used against Israel.

The Assad regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons of their transfer to terrorists.

And finally we continued our close consultation on Iran. We agree that a nuclear armed Iran would be a threat to the region a threat to the world and potentially an existential threat to Israel. We agree on our goal. We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We prefer to resolve this diplomatically and there is still time to do so.

Iran’s leaders must understand however that they have to meet their international obligations. And meanwhile the international community will continue to increase the pressure on the Iranian government.

The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps, and I will repeat: all options are on the table; we will do what is necessary from prevent Iran from getting the world’s worst weapons.

Meeting none of these challenges will be easy. It will demand the same courage and resolve of those as those who have preceded us.

On Friday I’ll be honored to visit Mount Herzl and pay tribute to the leaders and soldiers who have laid down their lives for Israel. One of them was Yoni Netanyahu. In one of his letters home he wrote to his family: Don’t forget, strength, justice and staunch resolution are on our side and that is a great deal.

Mr. Prime Minister, like families across Israel, you and your family have suffered and sacrificed to defend your country and to pass it safe and strong to your children just as it was passed on to you.

Standing here today I can say with confidence that Israel’s security is guaranteed because it has a great deal on its side. Including the unwavering support of the United States of America.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.