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...

  • 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 →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.