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December 7, 2013 8:00 pm

Obama Sharply Criticizes Israeli Postures on Iran Talks

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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President Barack Obama speaks with Saban Forum Chairman Haim Saban on December 7, 2013. Photo: Ralph Alswang.

President Barack Obama addressed the citizens of Israel directly Saturday night. Speaking at the annual Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., Obama emphasized the importance of pursuing a diplomatic solution to the standoff with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the issue of the country’s desire to develop its nuclear program. However, he also stated, “I have not taken any option off the table.”

Obama addressed the rift between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Obama explained that the difference in approach is based on a difference of opinion as to the effect of tougher sanctions.

“The sanctions have proven effective because we dropped them… the thought that the Iranian people, its leaders, or even moderates inside the country will succumb to increased pressure does not reflect a true understanding of what is happening in [Iran]. Iranians must be allowed to take the path that provides them an honorable solution.” Obama’s statement was aimed at rebutting Netanyahu’s long-held assertion that tough sanctions will cause the Iranian regime to halt its development of a nuclear program.

At the forum, Obama also referred to the current state of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying that an agreement should happen in stages.

“There are young people that I’ve met both inside of Israel and the Palestinian Authority who are looking for a different future. If we create a pathway to peace – even if initially limited to the West Bank – this will be a model that young Palestinians in Gaza can look at it and say to themselves that this is what a life of dignity and identification means, with growing trade and a developing economy… in an environment in which Israel does not feel threatened,” he said.

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