In his first conversation of three hours with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Day One, March 20, of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, the two leaders finally put to rest their long dispute over a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
In their news conference that night, both reiterated the principle that Israel has the right to independently defend itself against a perceived palpable threat from Iran – even if Washington does not share that perception.
The practical application of this principle was rather different: Obama and Netanyahu spoke highly and repeatedly of the close military and intelligence cooperation their governments had developed and which they would hate above all to jeopardize.
Obama: “There’s not much daylight between us on where Iran is at. Israel is differently situated than us. I would not expect Israel to defer to anyone in its decisions on this.” Netanyahu: “We do have a common intelligence assessment on this. Although the US and Israel have different vulnerabilities and capabilities… there is no argument… I am absolutely convinced that Obama is committed to preventing Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb.”
He added: “Iran has not yet reached the red line I defined in my UN speech, but it is getting closer all the time.”