Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Netanyahu and Obama Stress Israel’s Right to Defend Itself by Itself

March 20, 2013 4:01 pm 0 comments

President Obama signs the guest book at Prime Minister Netanyahus residence.

Israel’s right to “defend itself by itself” was a common theme in the press conference held jointly by U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today, during the former’s first trip to Israel as U.S. President.

“Your first task is to keep the people of Israel safe,” said Obama to Netanyahu, referring to him by his nickname “Bibi” throughout the duration of the conference. On this point he said, “the Prime Minister and I agree.”

Answering questions about their respective approaches to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, differences once again emerged. “If Iran decides to manufacture a weapon, to go for a weapon that would take them about a year,”Netanyahu said, agreeing with an earlier assessment by the President. “Iran right now is enriching uranium,” he said, adding, “Iran gets to an immunity zone when they get through the enrichment process in our view.” President Obama by contrast stressed only that the United States was opposed to the Iranian completion of an actual nuclear weapon.

Responding to a string of questions from NBC’s Chuck Todd about his track record in dealing with Israel and the lack of progress towards Middle East peace under his administration,  Obama acknowledged that there were a “host of things I could have done that would have been more deft and created better optics.”

Obama pledged to continue extending military aid to Israel for advanced missile defense systems, promising to “take steps to ensure no interruption in funding for Iron Dome.” Obama also pledged to open talks on a schedule for Israel aid for the next ten years, a point that Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed and offered thanks for later on in the conference. “We will help to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge,” promised Obama, “so that Israel can defend itself by itself.”

Obama also spoke about Syrian chemical weapons and the “peace process,” and expressed a wish to prevent Gaza based terror group Hamas from rearming.

Pushed by a reporter from Israel’s Channel 2 about his administration’s record in dealing with the Syrian civil war which has resulted in an acute humanitarian crisis, Obama stressed that “Assad has lost his legitimacy to lead,” and that he shared concern with the Israelis over the possibility of a transfer of chemical weapons to Lebanese based terror group Hezbollah.

Asked about recent reports that Assad’s army had actually already used chemical weapons, crossing a red line that Obama has previously set, he said, “we intend to investigate thoroughly what happened […] I instructed my teams to find out precisely if chemical weapons were used.”

“Once we establish the facts,” he said, “I have made clear that it is a game changer.”

Obama defended his policy of withholding military intervention in Syria by saying, “it is a world problem,” and “we will continue to work in an international framework.”

“We agreed that a nuclear armed Iran would be a threat to Israel (and) a threat to the world,” Obama said addressing an issue that is a central focus for both the Israeli and U.S. governments, saying however that “our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“We believe there is still time for diplomatic solution,” added Obama, but in the event that it fails Obama promised, “all options are on the table, we will do what is necessary.”

“My main goal on this trip is to have the opportunity to speak directly to the Israeli people,” said Obama, “and let them know that they have a friend in the united states.”

“To bring this to some sort of clear settlement, a solution that would allow Israelis to feel as if they have broken out of the current isolation they are in, in this region […] for Palestinians to feel that they too are masters of their own fate […] that kind of solution we have not yet seen,” Obama concluded.

The press conference wasn’t without its light moments. Remarking on having met Netanyahu’s wife and two sons earlier in the day, Obama said,” I informed the prime minister that they are very good looking young men who clearly got their good looks from their mother.” The comment elicited laughter from the audience and a smile from Netanyahu, who responded, “well, I could say the same of your daughters.”

Leave a Reply

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


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →