Even after the public dust-up with Washington over setting red lines for Iran and
a middle-of-the-night telephone conversation Wednesday with US President Barack
Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will continue to push the world to set
benchmarks for the Islamic Republic, The Jerusalem Post has
Netanyahu alluded to this, and to the way he views this as an
issue of principle, during comments he made before meeting the visiting prime
minister of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer.
“We are facing
great challenges,” Netanyahu said.
“As prime minister of Israel, it is my
duty to uphold the vital interests of the State of Israel, to ensure its
security and its future. The greatest interest today is to prevent Iran from
continuing on its clear steps to achieving nuclear weapons, this from a country
that calls for our destruction and intends to achieve its
Netanyahu said he would uphold those interests, despite the
difficulties, “because leadership is tested in upholding them even if there are
disagreements with friends, even the best of friends. This is what I have done
and this is what I will continue to do for the State of Israel and the security
of its citizens.”
On Tuesday the US-Israeli disagreement on how to
approach Iran burst into the open when Netanyahu responded to Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton’s statement that the United States would not set deadlines for
Iran – by saying that those who would not place red lines before Iran did not
have the moral authority to place a “red light” in front of Israel.
comment was followed by Israeli sources confirming that no meeting would be
scheduled between Obama and Netanyahu when the prime minister traveled to the
United Nations General Assembly in New York for some 60 hours at the end of the
Though both the US and Israeli officials attributed this to
scheduling problems, it was widely reported as a new low in strained ties
between the two leaders.
Apparently as a result of those developments,
Obama phoned Netanyahu some time after midnight for what was described in Israel
as a “long, comprehensive, sincere” conversation that dealt with “all the issues
on the table.”
Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office refused to
provide details of the talk. The White House, however, released a read-out after
the hourlong conversation saying that it was “part of their ongoing
According to the statement, the two leaders “discussed
the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, and our close cooperation on Iran
and other security issues. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu
reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from
obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations
The statement also denied reports that Netanyahu asked to
meet Obama in Washington, or that Obama turned him down.
said Netanyahu’s office let the White House know that the prime minister would
be available to travel to Washington for a meeting, since it was clear the two
men would be unable to meet in New York.
Netanyahu also spoke on
Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and thanked him for
Ottawa’s decision last week to expel all Iranian diplomats and recall its
diplomats from Tehran.
“Your decision is an example of leadership and
morality,” Netanyahu said.
“This is an example of the right message that
the international community needs to send to Iran at the present time.”