Meeting to talk about, in President Obama’s words, “these hectic times” before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the United Nations tomorrow, the PM reminded POTUS that Iran “is committed to Israel’s destruction.”
Obama began the pool spray with reporters by reminding everyone that he’d finally visited Israel. “I think I’ve had the pleasure of hosting him more often than just about any other world leader, and hopefully this will provide just some small measure of repayment for the wonderful visit that I had in Israel this spring,” he said.
Obama then waxed about a restarted peace process in the Middle East and about “testing” diplomacy with Tehran.
“What I also shared with the Prime Minister is that, because of the extraordinary sanctions that we have been able to put in place over the last several years, the Iranians are now prepared, it appears, to negotiate,” said Obama, fresh off his Friday phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “We have to test diplomacy. We have to see if, in fact, they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions. And we in good faith will approach them, indicating that it is our preference to resolve these issues diplomatically.”
Alluding to Washington’s impending government shutdown, Netanyahu noted to Obama “there are many things on your plate, but I know that you know and the American people know that there is no better ally — more reliable, more stable, more democratic — other than Israel in a very raw, dangerous place.”
“For Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program. We have a saying in Hebrew, we call it mivchan hatotza’a — you would say it in English, what’s the bottom line? And the bottom line, again, is that Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program,” the prime minister continued.
“…It is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened. It’s the combination, I believe, that has guided your policy and our policy so far, that is good credible military threat and strong sanctions I think is still the only formula that can get a peaceful resolution of this problem.”
“We know that for peace to endure, it must be based on Israel’s capacity to defend itself, by itself,” Netanyahu added.
Before departing Jerusalem, Netanyahu vowed to “speak the truth” before the UN General Assembly.
“I will present our rights as a nation, our determination to defend ourselves and our hopes for peace. I will speak the truth. Facts must be stated in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles,” he said. “I intend to focus on the issue of stopping Iran’s nuclear program. The way to stop Iran’s nuclear program requires four steps: 1) Halting all uranium enrichment: 2) Removing all enriched uranium; 3) Closing Qom; and 4) Stopping the plutonium track.”