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Obama in Jerusalem: U.S. stands united with Israel against Iran's nuclear ambitions

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:55 p.m. HST, Mar 20, 2013

JERUSALEM >> Eager to reassure an anxious ally, President Barack Obama today affirmed Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself from any threat and vowed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He said containment of a nuclear-armed Iran was not an option and said the United States would do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from getting “the world’s worst weapons.”

Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his first visit to the Jewish state as president, Obama offered his personal commitment that the U.S. would stand by Israel in any circumstances that required it to act to protect its people. He said the U.S. and Israel would start talks soon on a new, 10-year security cooperation package to replace one that expires in 2017.

Obama also pledged to investigate whether chemical weapons were used this week in neighboring Syria’s 2-year-old civil war, something he said would be a “game-changer” for current U.S. policy. In addition, he said he would continue to urge Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch the moribund peace process.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Obama and Netanyahu, who have sparred on numerous occasions in the past, presented a united front on Iran.

They stressed repeatedly that all options — including military ones — are on the table to keep Iran from acquiring an atomic weapon if the diplomatic track fails. And they brushed aside apparent differences over when the Iranian nuclear program might reach the point that military action is required.

“We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining the world’s worst weapons,” Obama said, calling a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to Israel, the greater Middle East and the world.

Although Obama did not promise that the United States would act militarily against Iran if Israel decided that must be done, he offered an explicit endorsement for Israel to take whatever unilateral measures it deems necessary to guard against the threat.

“Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action and Israel is differently situated than the United States,” he said. “I would not expect that the prime minister would make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any another country any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security.”

Netanyahu seized on the remarks, saying they were an important demonstration of America’s steadfast alliance with Israel and part of making the carrot-and-stick approach a credible option to avoid the use of force. 

“I am absolutely convinced that the president is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” he said. “I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that the president has reaffirmed, more than any other president, Israel’s right and duty to defend itself by itself against any threat.”

Netanyahu said the carrot-and-stick approach now being employed to cajole Iran into proving that’s its nuclear intentions are peaceful had to be bolstered by “a clear and credible threat of military action.” Obama’s recognition of Israel’s right to act alone appeared to satisfy him on that score, and the prime minister beamed with delight in response to the new security pact talks.

On another issue of critical importance to Israel’s security, Obama said the U.S. is investigating whether chemical weapons were deployed in Syria earlier this week. He said he was “deeply skeptical” of contentions by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government that rebel forces were behind any such attack.

Both the Assad government and Syrian rebels have accused each other of using chemical weapons in an attack on Tuesday.  

Obama said the U.S. policy not to intervene militarily or arm Syrian rebels thus far is based on his desire to solve the problem with world partners. He rejected as “inaccurate” suggestions that the United States had done nothing to stop two years of bloodshed that has claimed more than 70,000 lives.

“It’s a world problem when tens of thousands of people are being slaughtered, including innocent women and children,” Obama said.

Obama’s three-day visit to Israel, from its start earlier today, is designed to send a message of reassurance to a key ally. 

At an extravagant welcoming ceremony, Obama declared that “peace must come to the Holy Land” and not at Israel’s expense. U.S. backing for Israel will be a constant as the Middle East roils with revolution and Iran continues work on its nuclear program, he said.

“The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,” Obama said after landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

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64hoo wrote:
Obama said he will stand by isreal because of iran's nuclear threat and that is all because he and Netanyahu don't like each other since Netanyahu schooled Obama about the west bank and gaza problem, you can see they shake hands but not smiling, looks like Obama has daggers in his eyes towards Netanyahu. but Obama still has to back isreal because of the nuclear threat.
on March 20,2013 | 05:16PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Stands united with Israel"....Because... that's the thing to say.... And that is as FAR as it goes. No more. The U.S. is NOT going to war. If Israel wants war, they do it alone, and WITHOUT U.S. taxpayers money to help them.
on March 20,2013 | 05:28PM
64hoo wrote:
Netanyahu in 2012 was talking to the senate in the capital floor and he told them that isreal can handle any war they fight and do not need any help from our soldiers. Netanyahu got a standing ovation by the senate for that statement. so no U.S. taxpayer money involved or troops because isreal can handle a fight by themselves mano on mano against any muslem country that's wants to start a war with isreal. so your taxpayer money is safe.
on March 20,2013 | 05:37PM
hanalei395 wrote:
I said if Israel wants war ...... STARTS a war.
on March 20,2013 | 06:00PM
64hoo wrote:
it dos'nt matter as you say if isreal starts a war they never start a war if they did they still would not take are taxpayer money and soldiers for there war. isreal can handle any war by themselves, they did in 1948 in 1967 in 1973 in 1985 against Syria in a air war where Syria lost 25 jet fighters and isreal none.also 2001 and 2003 with wars against hamas and hezbola so we never got involved with taxpayer money or soldires so your tax dollars are safe.
on March 20,2013 | 06:11PM
hanalei395 wrote:
If Yahu wants to attack Iran, he should do it now. What's he waitng for? A hint from Obama that the U.S. will join them?
on March 20,2013 | 06:32PM
64hoo wrote:
he was starting to prepare to attack irans nuclear facility but his fighter jets cannot reach the facility in iran its to far so Netanyahu started to build a secret air base closer to irans nuclear facility it was be built in azaberdeen probably spelled it wrong but they got permission from that small country to go ahead and build that secret airbase so isreal could reach the nuclear facility and no one knew about it not even the SA new about it. but Obama last year opened his big mouth and spilled the beans by letting press and newsmedia know about the secret base. isreal was building so now its not a secret no more because of obamas big mouth. SA didn't even print that about what there precious Obama did.
on March 20,2013 | 06:45PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Speaking about the 1967 war, read about the USS Liberty, an attack on a U.S. ship by Israel to sink it, and then blame it on Egypt. But the Liberty didn't sink, and their murderous attack backfired. U.S sailors were killed, but the U.S. swept it under rug.
on March 20,2013 | 06:55PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The big cover-up of the USS Liberty. 34 U.S. sailors murdered, 171 wounded. The survivors were ORDERED to keep quiet.....OR ELSE. The Liberty was escorted to Malta to be repaired, in secret, and then back to the U.S. to be scrapped.
on March 20,2013 | 07:32PM
64hoo wrote:
now your getting desperate by blaming isreal about the us ship which did not happen and isreal had nothing to do with it just like a typical liberal who hates isreal because everything I said was a fact where you based everthing on fiction and heresay like I said isreal can take care of its self.
on March 20,2013 | 08:31PM
hanalei395 wrote:
In 1973, Nixon sent U.S.weapons to Israel, worth billions of $$$$$, all paid by U.S. taxpayers.
on March 20,2013 | 06:37PM
64hoo wrote:
because Russia sent weapons to back Egypt and Syria against isreal and with the US and RUSSIA not getting along that's why Nixon help them out with tanks and jets if Egypt and Syria did not get help from Russia they woukld have not gotten our help, when isreal was kicking Egypt an syrias you know. what russia threatened to send troops to help out edypt and syria and at that's when nixion put us at defcom 1 and told Russia if they send troops in the middle east, we were gonna use are nuclear missles at you and our carrier in the middle east was armed with nuclear weapon to fire on Russia he gave the Russian dictato breznef to stand down or we will fire on you. he stood down and did not send troops. we were almost in a nuclear war with Russia that a lot of people don't remember.
on March 20,2013 | 07:04PM
busterb wrote:
Of course they don't need $$. They get billions from us annually. Why ask for more?
on March 20,2013 | 08:44PM
64hoo wrote:
no the muslem brotherhood of Egypt gets 2 billion dollors from us and tanks and jets that's who gets the money
on March 20,2013 | 09:10PM
Pocho wrote:
Yup, he's in Israel. PR work and if Israel goes to war. They going need all the help they can get. It's all hot air that they can do it themselves. Who they kidding
on March 20,2013 | 06:16PM
64hoo wrote:
they can read my comment above all the wars they been in. it says it all. heres an example when isreal became a state in 1948 5 arab nations attacked them to drive them into sea for one year isreal fought them off, but with 1 out of every 100 jews were killed in that war till it ended in 1949. the five arab countries were Syria, Egypt, Iraq,lebenon and Jordan they wanted to drive the fledging jewish state into the sea but isreal held there own, so don't say they can't do it by themselves they can.
on March 20,2013 | 06:29PM
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