Israel isn’t going to be dialling back on the tough talk any time soon.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued his strong rhetoric at Monday’s American Israeli Public Affair Committee conference, suggesting that Israel would engage Iran with or without the United States’ help.
“We waited for diplomacy to work; we’ve waited for sanctions to work; none of us can afford to wait much longer,” Netanyahu said before the pro-Israel lobbying group.
The prime minister’s statements came shortly after he met with President Obama and further implied that it will be up to Israel, and Israel alone, whether or not to begin military strikes on Iran.
“My supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate,” Netanyahu told Obama. “Israel must reserve the right to defend itself and after all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state to, restore to the Jewish people control of our destiny.”
Netanyahu did, however, take time to thank the president and the country for its commitment with Israel, albeit using a slightly odd analogy:
“Americans know that Israel and the United States share common values, that we defend common interests, that we face common enemies. Iran’s leaders know that, too. For them, you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan. For them, we are you and you’re 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. So if there’s one thing that stands out clearly in the Middle East today, it’s that Israel and America stand together.”
Meanwhile, the president took the opportunity to reaffirm his position that the U.S. will support Israel but continued to urge more patience.
“We do believe there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue,” the president said before his speech at AIPAC, adding “My policy here is not going to be one of containment. My policy is prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. When I say all options are on the table, I mean it.”
Later, the president criticised those engaged in “loose talk of war” over Iran, which could be seen as much a dig at Netanyahu as several Republican lawmakers. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum gave a speech at AIPAC saying, “If they do not tear down those facilities, we will tear them down ourselves.”
Likewise, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a more tempered take in the Washington Post.
“Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions,” he wrote. “Only when they understand that at the end of that road lies not nuclear weapons but ruin will there be a real chance for a peaceful resolution.”
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