OTTAWA – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immediately responded favorably to US
President Barack Obama’s speech on Sunday, highlighting Obama’s remarks about
Israel’s right to defend itself as it saw fit.
“I appreciated the fact
that he said Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any
threat,” Netanyahu told reporters before meeting Canadian Jewish
“I appreciated the fact that President Obama reiterated his
position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and that all
options are on the table,” Netanyahu said. “I also appreciated the fact that he
made clear that when it comes to a nuclear-armed Iran, containment is simply not
Netanyahu’s comments came less than a day before he is set to
meet Obama in the White House for a meeting expected to be dominated by the
Iranian nuclear issue.
Netanyahu is also expected to again ask Obama for
the release of Jonathan Pollard.
He wrote Obama an official letter asking
for Pollard’s release but has not received an answer from him.
his meeting with the Jewish leaders, Netanyahu met with Canadian opposition
leader Bob Rae before flying to Washington.
Netanyahu told the Jewish
leaders that while the weather in Canada was cold, the reception he received was
very warm. Nevertheless, differences of opinion did emerge with Canadian Prime
Minister Stephen Harper.
On Friday, after meeting Harper, Netanyahu laid
out at a joint press conference the three terms Israel felt Iran needed to meet
before the West negotiated with Tehran over its nuclear program: the closure of
the facility at Qoms, the end of all uranium enrichment in Iran and the removal
from Iran of all uranium enriched over 3.5 percent.
According to sources,
Netanyahu hoped that Harper would sign onto these terms, giving him support when
he took these proposals to Washington and his meeting with Obama on
Harper, however, balked.
According to the sources, it was
not clear whether Harper demurred because the Americans asked him to, or because
he did not want to appear too bellicose regarding Iran for domestic