US president says he understands Israeli PM’s ‘insistence’ to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear but stresses ‘when it comes to our national security any pressure I feel is to do what’s right for the American people’
In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, the president addressed the crisis between Washington and Jerusalem over the handling of the Iranian nuclear issue. Obama stressed he feels “an obligation, not pressure” to coordinate with Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli and US officials are still struggling to reach understandings on the matter behind the scenes. US Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren has traveled to Israel to meet Netanyahu before the latter heads to New York for the UN’s General Assembly on Wednesday night.
Obama said he “understands and shares” the Israeli prime minister’s “insistence” that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon as this “would threaten us, it would threaten Israel and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race.”
However, in a jab to Netanyahu, he remarked that when it comes to US national security “any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.”
Tensions between Israel and the US mounted when Netanyahu demanded that Obama’s administration draw “red lines” for Iran that if crossed would prompt a US reaction. Washington refused to comply but stressed its commitment to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The crisis between Netanyahu and Obama exacerbated as Israeli elements accused the US president of refusing to meet with the prime minister. The White House claimed that schedule constraints prevented any meeting between the two on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
In U.S., Obama’s remark on ‘noise’ surrounding Iran issue draws Republican ire
Heading to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, President Barack Obama will attempt to “block out any noise” aimed to influence his decisions concerning Iran. However, with only six weeks to the U.S. presidential elections, Republicans will try and remind him this quote.
In an interview on Sunday to CBS’ 60 minutes, Obama yet again rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the U.S. would draw “red lines,” if crossed would bring about an American strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “When it comes to our national security decisions,” Obama said, “any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.”
Jewish Republicans were quick to slam the president over his remarks. Comparing Obama with the Republican candidate, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor described Mitt Romney as “a man who recognizes the importance of our alliance with Israel and the danger a nuclear Iran poses,” while, he said, President Obama downplayed Israel’s concern over Iran as “noise.”
Obama: Israel’s concerns on Iran “noise” I’m going to block out
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul provided a response that not only ripped Obama for dismissing Israel’s extremely valid concerns over Iran’s nuclear program as “noise,” but also for Obama’s odd qualifiers on Israel’s status as an ally:
“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East. Governor Romney’s views stand in sharp contrast to the President’s. Governor Romney strongly believes that Israel is our most important ally in the Middle East and that support for Israel is essential to extending freedom, peace and democracy throughout the region. As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”
Israel isn’t “one of our closest allies in the region”; it’s our closest ally in the region, and it’s not even a matter of subjective debate. Who would be closer? Egypt? Oh, wait, Obama wouldn’t even commit to the idea of Egypt being an ally at all. The Saudis? We do a lot of business with the Saudis, but they’ve hardly been the kind of ally Israel has been — and if Obama wants to talk about democratization as the basic qualifier (which I’ll address later), then the Saudis don’t qualify at all. It’s certainly not the Iranians, nor the Libyans, especially in the eastern part of the country.
Source – Iron Mill News Service
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