WASHINGTON — President Obama told rabbis on a conference call to mark Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sunday, that “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is now closed off” to Iran thanks to his administration’s “principled diplomacy.”
Obama told the rabbis on the call — which was organized by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly –that “looking back on the last eight years, I’m both proud of what we’ve accomplished together, but also mindful of the work we have before us,” according to a transcript released by the White House.
He said his administration has “taken a clear stand” on the “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” evidenced by the recently signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations that amounts to $38 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel over the next decade.
Under the P5+1 agreement, Obama said, Iran is now subject to “the most comprehensive nuclear inspection ever.”
The president noted to the rabbis “we have worked incredibly closely with many of you” on issues like getting the United Nations to recognize Yom Kippur as an official holiday and signing “a historic Paris agreement that hopefully will curb the accelerating speed at which our planet is warming and could threaten the future of our children and our grandchildren.”
“Of course, we’ve still got a lot of work to do — on the refugee crisis, on criminal justice reform, reducing violence, and creating a political culture in this country that’s a little more functional,” Obama continued. “But a new year brings new hope, and the community represented on this phone call has always known what it means to stand up for the less fortunate, the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee.”
“And so I’m confident that we can stand together and make sure that as we pass the baton to the next administration that we’re going to be able to build on the enormous progress that we’ve already made.”
The entirety of the call, including comments from rabbis, was closed to the media.
Obama met last week at the UN with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he stressed “concerns around settlement activity.”
“I’ll also be interested in hearing from the prime minister his assessment of conditions within Israel and in the West Bank,” Obama said before their meeting. “Obviously, our hearts go out to those who have been injured, both Israeli and Palestinian.”