Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Obama Says U.S.-Israel Bond Is 'Unbreakable'

From The Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2010, by JARED A. FAVOLE:

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama, flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, on Tuesday hailed the bond between the U.S. and Israel as "unbreakable" and said the two agreed on concrete steps to begin direct talks on Mideast peace.

The two, speaking with reporters in the Oval Office after meeting for about an hour ...reaffirmed their shared interest, particularly in the area of national security and peace.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Netanyahu was prepared to take "risks" on Mideast peace and praised the prime minister for recently instituting a partial freeze on Jewish construction in disputed territories.

Mr. Netanyahu said the two discussed "concrete" steps they would take in the coming weeks to help move toward direct talks on Mideast peace. Mr. Netanyahu said it was "high-time" for he, Mr. Obama and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to have direct talks on Mideast peace.

Mr. Obama said he hoped direct talks would begin before the moratorium on Jewish construction ends in September.

Mr. Obama said Palestinians have taken positive steps recently in the area of security but warned the country not to look for "opportunities to embarrass Israel." He added, "I think it's very important that the Palestinians not look for excuses for incitement, that they are not engaging in provocative language."

...Mr. Netanyahu praised Mr. Obama for signing last week a tough set of sanctions against Iran, saying they have "teeth. They bite." He also urged other countries to adopt similar measures.

When Mr. Obama was asked whether it was a mistake for him to distance himself from Israel, he claimed that "the premise of your question was wrong. I entirely disagree with it." He added, "If you look at every public statement I have made over the last year and a half it has been a constant reaffirmation of the special relationship between the United States and Israel."
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