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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama: No options off the table on Iran, not my place to determine Israeli security needs

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/obama-no-options-off-table-on-iran-not.html

US President Obama gave a carefully timed interview to Newsweek ahead of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The interview ranged over a wide variety of subjects. President Obama had some very important messages on Iran and Israel and Middle East peace, that do not look or sound anything like what has appeared in the media or has been published about this interview. He said that no options are off the table, and repeated that he is not naive. He also said that he can understand why Israel considers Iran to be an existential threat and emphasized that the United States cannot determine Israeli security needs. He did not explain, and was not asked, why American officials have been going around warning Israel not to attack Iran, nor did he say that he himself believes Iran to be an existential threat to Israel. He did say, when asked, that "NO" the United states will not stop Israel from attacking Iran. In fact, he said:
They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.
His words were chosen skilfully, even if the delivery seemed off hand. They should not be distorted, as some have already begun to do.
Notably absent from this interview as published on the Web: Any mention of Palestinians, peace intitiatives, settlements and two-state solutions. Literally, those words are not there, and neither is the word "Arab."
Here is the part of the interview that relates to Israel and Iran:

Prime Minister Netanyahu is coming [to Washington this week]. How do you expect to talk to him about the possibility of Israeli military action against Iran? And some people have argued that we should not take [American military action] off the table.
I've been very clear that I don't take any options off the table with respect to Iran. I don't take options off the table when it comes to U.S. security, period. What I have said is that we want to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules. I think, ultimately, that will be better for the Iranian people. I think that there is the ability of an Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain its Islamic character while, at the same time, being a member in good standing of the international community and not a threat to its neighbors. And we are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that hasn't produced results in the region.

Now, will it work? We don't know. And I assure you, I'm not naive about the difficulties of a process like this. If it doesn't work, the fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself, as opposed to a perception that it seeks to advance that somehow it's being victimized by a U.S. government that doesn't respect Iran's sovereignty.

And you would expect the Israelis, as an ally, to follow along with that and not take unilateral [military] action?

No, look, I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why. So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.

I can make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives.

Make of it what you will, in the context of all other buzz, spin and rumors.

Cross posted:

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Netanyahu: Israel prepared to resume negotiations without preconditions - Iran is the common danger

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2009/05/netanyahu-israel-prepared-to-resume.html

It's very good to be with all of you, and I want to thank all of you. I want to thank first the members of Congress who are assembled there, the leaders of , you David, Howard Friedman, Lee Rosenberg and Howard Kohr, all the delegates of AIPAC and the hundreds of students that are in the room, all the friends of Israel. I want to thank all of you for your unwavering support for Israel and for strengthening the great friendship between Israel and the United States.

As you said, I have met President Obama, I respect him and I look forward to seeing him in Washington in a couple of weeks. We plan to continue our common quest for security, for prosperity and for peace.

Friends, there is something significant that is happening today in the Middle East, and I can say that for the first time in my lifetime, I believe for the first time in a century, that Arabs and Jews see a common danger. This wasn't always the case. In the '30's and '40's, many in the Arab world supported another country believing that that was their hope. In the '60's, '70' and '80's, they supported another country that was at odds with the Jewish state. But this is no longer the case.

There is a great challenge afoot. But that challenge also presents great opportunities. The common danger is echoed by Arab leaders throughout the Middle East; it is echoed by Israel repeatedly; it is echoed by Europeans, by many responsible governments around the world. And if I had to sum it up in one sentence, it is this: Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. If I had to sum up the opportunity in one word, it would be cooperation – cooperation between Israel and the Arab world and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians.

Next week I'll be visiting Egypt with President Mubarak, and I plan to discuss both matters with him. We seek expanded relations with the Arab world. We want normalization of economic ties and diplomatic ties. We want peace with the Arab world. But we also want peace with the Palestinians. That peace has eluded us for more than 13 years. Six successive prime ministers of Israel and two American presidents have not succeeded in achieving this final peace settlement. I believe it is possible to achieve it, but I think it requires a fresh approach, and the fresh approach that I suggest is pursuing a triple track towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians – a political track, a security track, an economic track.

The political track means that we are prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions – the sooner the better. The security track means that we want to continue the cooperation with the program led by General Dayton, in cooperation with the Jordanians and with the Palestinian Authority to strengthen the security apparatus of the Palestinians. This is something we believe in and something that I think we can advance in a joint effort. The economic track means that we are prepared to work together to remove as many obstacles as we can to the advancement of the Palestinian economy. We want to work with the Palestinian Authority on this track, not as a substitute for political negotiations, but as a boost to them. I want to see Palestinian youngsters knowing that they have a future. I want them not to be hostage to a cult of death and despair and hate. I want them to have jobs. I want them to have career paths. I want them to know that they can provide for their families. This means that we can give them a future of hope, a future that means that there is prosperity for all. And this has proved to be successful in advancing a political peace in many parts of the world.

I believe that this triple track towards peace is the realistic path to peace, and I believe that with the cooperation of President Obama and President Abbas, we can defy the skeptics. We can surprise the world. But there are two provisos that I think have to be said at this point. First, peace will not come without security. If we abandon security, we'll have neither security nor peace. So I want to be very clear – we shall never compromise on Israel's security. Second, for a final peace settlement to be achieved, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state. They must recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

A few hours ago, I spoke at the Knesset. We marked the birthday of Theodore Herzl, the founding father of Zionism. Herzl revolutionized the history of the Jewish people, a people that was scattered and defenseless throughout the nations. He revolutionized Jewish history when he published a slim pamphlet called, "The Jewish State". This was our salvation and this is our foundation – the foundation of our future and the foundation of peace.

Good night from Jerusalem. God bless America. God bless Israel. Thank you all

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Continued (Permanent Link)


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