Obama says all the right things in Israel

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff  

During a whirlwind 36-hour visit that saw US presidential hopeful Barak Obama meet with all of the top Israeli and Palestinian leaders and visit numerous sites throughout the country on Wednesday, the Democratic candidate said all the right things as he tried to assure Israelis that a US administration with him at the helm would not endanger the Jewish state.

Polls have shown that a large majority of Israelis prefer Obama's opponent, Republican John McCain, as president, fearing the Democratic candidate's Muslim family history and his personal ties to religious figures and political advisors hostile toward Israel.

The primary issue on the table during Obama's meetings in Israel was the Iran threat.

The Illinois senator started his day with a breakfast meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, during which Iran's nuclear program was reportedly the only topic broached. He later commented that a nuclear-armed Iran would be "game changing."

The previous evening as he arrived in Israel, Obama signaled that as president he would be open to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, if there was no other option. Obama told reporters that he viewed Israel's strike on a Syrian nuclear facility last year as completely "appropriate."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was expected to impress upon Obama when the two dined together Wednesday evening the urgency of the Iran situation, and that Israel will soon find itself having to seriously consider a military strike if current diplomatic efforts do not bear fruit.

On the Palestinian front, Obama told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Olmert in separate meetings that if elected president, he does not intend to impose any solutions on the two sides.

Obama did urge Israel to ease restrictions placed on the Palestinians as security measures, but then turned around and told Israel that the terrorism practiced against it is totally unacceptable and that he fully supports the Jewish state's right to defend itself as it sees fit.

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