US President Barack Obama sought to reaffirm support for Israel on Monday, telling the country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that America “will always have Israel’s back” when it comes to dealing with Iran.
“The bond between our two countries is unbreakable,” Obama told Netanyahu during a White House press conference in the Oval Office. “The United States will always have Israel’s back when it comes to Israel’s security.”
While not taking the military option off the table, the American President did hold out hope for a peaceful resolution to allegations that Iran is working on building a nuclear weapons arsenal.
“We believe there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution,” Obama said. “We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.”
Netanyahu remained steadfast in his position that Israel has the ultimate choice in deciding if, and when, it would hit Iran with a military strike.
“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,” he went on to say.
The Oval Office was scene to a much more confrontational meeting between the two leaders last May, shortly after President Obama called on Israel to retreat back to its pre-1967 borders. Passionately maintaining the territory it currently owns as being for the Jewish people, PM Netanyahu flatly rejected demands to cede more land, negotiate with Hamas, and grant Palestinians the Right of Return.
This time around, PM Netanyahu reaffirmed the ties between his country and America were unbreakable.
“Americans know that Israel and the United States share common interests, that we defend common values, and we face common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Iran leaders know that, too. For them, you’re the Great Satan, we’re the Little Satan. For them, we are you, you are us, and, you something, Mr. President? On that last point, I think they’re right. We are you, and you are us.”