NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Article 1 photo 1
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu had an “excellent” meeting on July 6.
Article 1 photo 3
The president and prime minister discussed the threats posed by a nuclear Iran. Netanyahu praised Obama for signing the new Iran sanctions legislation.
Article 1 photo 3
President Obama acknowledged that Israel has “unique security requirements” that require the Jewish state to have the ability to respond to any number of
concurrent threats.

Obama-Netanyahu Meet, Reiterate
“Unbreakable” Bond

On July 6, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met at the White House and discussed a wide array of issues including the peace process and Iran. The meeting was the fifth between the two leaders in the past 13 months. Both the president and prime minister characterized this meeting as “excellent” and dismissed any notion that there was tension in the relationship.

“The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable,” said President Obama. “It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but, most importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on.”

The prime minister concurred. “We have an enduring bond of values, interests, beginning with security, and the way that we share both information and other things to help the common defense of our–of our common interests,” said Netanyahu.

“We will work together in the coming months and years to protect our common interests, our countries, our peoples against new threats. And at the same time, we want to explore the possibilities of peace,” the prime minister added.

Pursuit of Peace

Both the president and prime minister emphasized the need for the peace process to move forward. While Netanyahu has repeatedly called for direct negotiations to begin immediately, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with the prime minister without preconditions. As a result, the sides have been in U.S.-led proximity talks for months.

Obama and Netanyahu each took the opportunity to discuss their shared goal of a lasting peace between a safe and secure Israel and a sovereign Palestinian state.

“[Netanyahu] once again reaffirmed his willingness to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestinians around what I think should be the goal not just of the two principals involved, but the entire world,” said the president. “And that is two states living side by side in peace and security.”

The president also mapped out his vision for the future of proximity talks. “We expect those proximity talks to lead to direct talks,” he said. “And I believe that the government of Israel is prepared to engage in such direct talks.” For the first time, the president also attached a timeframe to the proximity talks saying he hoped to be in direct talks “well before” the settlement moratorium expires in September.

Obama also praised Israel for taking steps that have been “conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks” and recognized the prime minister as someone who wants peace and is willing to take risks for peace.

Netanyahu spoke about steps Israel has taken for peace and the ongoing security concerns Israel needs addressed. “Israelis are prepared to do a lot to get that peace in place, but they want to make sure that after all the steps they take, that what we get is a secure peace,” the prime minister said. “We don't want a repeat of a situation where we vacate territories and those are overtaken by Iran's proxies and used as launching ground for terrorist attacks or rocket attacks.” BACK TO TOP

Iranian Threat

The prime minister called Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon “the greatest new threat on the horizon.” Netanyahu praised President Obama’s leadership by securing a fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran and thanked the president for signing the Iran sanctions resolution (CISADA) last week. The prime minister considered the U.S. sanctions to have “real teeth.”

The president added, “We intend to continue to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community.” In addition to its ongoing pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, Iran continues to fund, train and supply its terrorist proxies—Hizballah and Hamas—while simultaneously influencing Syria.

Obama also addressed the direct threat that Iran, terrorism and those who seek Israel’s destruction pose to the Jewish state and how the U.S. would ensure Israel’s security.

“The underlying approach never changes, and that is, the United States is committed to Israel's security. We are committed to that special bond. And we are going to do what's required to back that up, not just with words, but with actions,” said the president.

“We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in, and the threats that are leveled against us–against it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It's got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region.”

“We are going to continually work with the prime minister and the entire Israeli government, as well as the Israeli people, so that we can achieve what I think has to be everybody's goal, which is that people feel secure, they don't feel like a rocket's going to be landing on their head sometime, they don't feel as if there's a growing population that wants to direct violence against Israel.”

While no future meeting is currently scheduled, Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the president for his gracious hospitality and extended a personal invitation for Obama to visit Israel. The president was last in Israel in 2008 as a Senator. BACK TO TOP