President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu began their meeting today with Obama reminding the Israeli prime minister about his speech to AIPAC and Netanyahu reminding Obama that Israel will still take whatever course of action it deems best.
The two delivered remarks before ducking into private consultations that Obama said would focus on “regional issues” including the Mideast peace process.
“And obviously a large topic of conversation will be Iran, which I devoted a lot of time to in my speech to AIPAC yesterday, and I know that the Prime Minister has been focused on for a long period of time,” Obama said.
“And as I indicated yesterday in my speech, when I say all options are at the table, I mean it,” he added.
Netanyahu thanked Obama for his “kind words,” “strong speech yesterday” and “warm hospitality.”
“I think that above and beyond [the U.S.-Israel relationship] are two principles, longstanding principles of American policy that you reiterated yesterday in your speech — that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threat; and that when it comes to Israel’s security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions,” the prime minister said. “I believe that’s why you appreciate, Mr. President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself.”
“And after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state — to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny,” Netanyahu continued. “And that’s why my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.”
Netanyahu speaks to AIPAC at the gala tonight.