Netanyahu focuses on Iran, Obama on Israelis

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff  

As visiting US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrapped up their evening meeting and met the press in Jerusalem, it was fairly clear where both leader's focus was.

While it is difficult to read too much into these situations, it was unavoidably noticeable that Netanyahu began his address to the press with by passionately stressing Israel's right to defend itself against the Iranian threat.

Netanyahu noted that up until just two generations ago, the Jewish people were disenfranchised and powerless. Now that the Jewish people have rebuilt their ancient state, they will not allow themselves to be subject to such a threat again, the prime minister insisted, even if that means going against the wishes of close friends.

When his turn came, Obama began by once again praising the people of Israel. Both Israeli and American commentators have noted that Obama is conducted a full-on charm offensive so aggressive in nature that it has taken many Israelis by surprise. The thinking is that if Obama can get Israelis to finally like him, then the White House will have much more leverage over Netanyahu when it comes to the peace process.

Obama did also address Iran, and agreed that it must not attain nuclear weapons. However, Obama again asserted that time remains to keep trying diplomatic solutions, and he also let slip his belief that an Iranian nuke is only "potentially" an existential threat to the Jewish state.

During the question and answer time following, Obama did concede that the US would never defer decisions on national security to another nation, and neither does he expect Israel to do so when it comes to Iran.

Both leaders touched on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and both agreed that the solution is two states for two peoples, with both stressing that one of those states is a JEWISH state and homeland.

Obama reiterated that he had not come to apply pressure on either side, nor to announce a new peace initiative, but rather to listen and learn. "I will consider my visit a success if after returning home I can say that I have a better understanding of what is happening on the ground and the positions of the two sides," said Obama.

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