(by Geoff Earle in Washington and Andy Soltis in NY, NYPost.com) – President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [on Monday] brushed aside bitter past differences and stressed what they can agree on stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
“For them, you’re the great Satan,” Netanyahu said of the Iranian hard liners’ view of the United States before his three-hour meeting at the White House. “We’re the little Satan. For them, we are you and you are us. “And you know something, Mr. President? At least on this last point, I think they’re right. We are you, and you are us. We’re together . . . Israel and America stand together.”
Netanyahu said the world was united in stopping Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons. “We managed to convince the international community that we are talking about a real threat and danger,” he said.
Sources told Israeli media that Netanyahu did not ask for Obama’s “red lines” on Iran — what it would take to get an endorsement of military action.
Despite speculation that the Israeli leader would give Obama an ultimatum on Iran, sources said that didn’t happen, even though the meeting was devoted almost entirely to Iran. Netanyahu told the president he hadn’t decided whether to strike Iran, the Israel news Web site haaretz.com reported.
In 1981, Israel’s jets destroyed Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor, in a move that angered US officials. But after the airstrike, Saddam’s atomic ambitions were stalled indefinitely.
During yesterday’s summit [with President Obama], Netanyahu underlined the concern over Iran by giving Obama a Purim Megillah scroll, which tells the biblical story of Queen Esther and how Jews foiled a plot to [to wipe them out] in ancient Persia – now Iran. “Then, too, they wanted to wipe us out,” he told Obama. He said the current Iranian leaders have to be taken seriously when they threaten Israel.
“They mean it,” Netanyahu said. “If this will be resolved by diplomacy, great. But we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. The pressure on Iran has indeed increased, but time is getting short.”
The meeting, their ninth in the Oval Office since 2009, contrasted with previous summits in which the Palestinian-Israeli peace process [was the main focus].
This time, the Palestinians were discussed — along with other matters, including the civil war in Syria and Israeli appeals to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard — during a 90-minute lunch, officials said.
Before the meeting, Obama stressed the alternatives to military action. “Both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically,” he said. “We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution.”
He also used the usual Israeli phrase — “all options are on the table” — to hint that airstrikes against Tehran’s nuclear targets are possible. This time, the president added, “when I say all options, I mean it.”
Netanyahu, known for his tough language, looked Obama directly in the eye when he said Israel must remain “the master of its fate” in deciding what to do about Iran. Afterward, he told reporters Obama did not change his tone behind closed doors. “What the president said outside, in front of the cameras, that is what he said in the meeting,” he said. He added that Obama “accepted with understanding” the Israeli position on Iran.
Last night, while addressing the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] conference, Netanyahu said, “None of us can afford to wait much longer. ”
The Obama administration’s take on the meeting, according to a senior official, is that Netanyahu now believes the president is serious about heading off the Iranian nuclear program.
“Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid,” Obama told reporters. “The United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.”
Their meeting appeared in sharp contrast with their May 2011 summit, at which Netanyahu publicly lectured Obama on Jewish history while the president clenched his fist around the arm of his chair.
In the past, administration officials had complained that, under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel has surprised the United States with such decisions as expanding Jewish settlements.
Israeli officials, in turn, said Obama’s White House failed to treat Netanyahu the way a visiting allied leader deserves. This time, Netanyahu thanked Obama for the “warm hospitality.”
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The New York Post.
1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. a) Define President Obama’s “red lines” as used in this article.
b) Why do you think the two leaders neither asked for nor offered to explain what President Obama’s “red lines” on Iran are?
3. How does Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu view the following:
a) Iran’s nuclear program
b) an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities
c) Iran’s threats against Israel
4. What position did President Obama take on the Iranian nuclear threat before his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu?
5. How did the Obama administration view the outcome of his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu?
6. a) Before reading this article, how did you think President Obama viewed the U.S. role in helping our ally Israel deal with Iran’s nuclear weapons program and threats to Israel?
b) Has your impression changed? Explain your answer.
7. After his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama told reporters: “Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. The United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.” What do you think the President’s motive was for this statement: (explain your answer)
IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM:
Read/watch Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks from his meeting with President Obama at the official website for the Prime Minister of Israel at:
Watch a video clip from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at AIPAC this week:
Watch a news clip from a presidential news conference on March 6th of President Obama clarifying the statement he made to reporters after his meeting with PM Netanyahu that the U.S. “ha[s] Israel’s back.” He says in part that having Israel’s back is “not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action. It was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about . . . [and] confirms how deeply we care about it.”