US President Barack Obama assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a telephone conversation on Saturday that he remains determined to keep Iran from going nuclear, Channel 2 reported Monday.

According to the report, Obama’s assurances came in a phone conversation with Netanyahu just prior to announcing in a White House speech that he would ask Congress to approve a limited US attack on Syria.

The advanced notice Obama gave Netanyahu of his plans is believed to have been motivated partly by a desire to mute Israeli criticism.

And, indeed, there has been relatively little public criticism from government circles of Obama’s tactics. The media, however, has been full of commentary arguing that Obama’s actions are sending the wrong signal to Iran, and showing that if the US president does not have the resolve to act immediately against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it was unlikely he would act against Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the Channel 2 report, Obama told Netanyahu that the confrontation with Syria did not negatively impact on the Iranian situation, and that the two situations were completely different.

Obama, in his efforts to win votes in Congress for using limited force as a punitive measure against Syria, is expected to use as one of his arguments that a failure to do so would hurt America’s deterrence against Iran and Hezbollah, and be bad for Israel.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, reiterated his dual message Monday of trying to calm the Israeli public on one hand, while warning Israel’s enemies on the other.

“We have very great tasks in light of what is occurring throughout our region both near and far,” Netanyahu said at the dedication ceremony of the new Golani interchange in the north.

“While they shoot at each other, we build for each other,” he said. “Our state is peaceful, certain of the strength of the IDF and sure of itself because it knows that it can defend itself.

I will not allow anyone to harm the State of Israel. I ask you to go out and enjoy the [upcoming Rosh Hashana] holiday and if someone thinks of harming the tranquility of the holiday, he knows what awaits him.”

President Shimon Peres said Monday that he does not regard Obama’s decision to seek authorization from Congress for a strike against Syria as a sign of cold feet, and that he was not disappointed that America is not taking immediate action.

In an hour-long Rosh Hashana interview on Army Radio on Monday, Peres expressed full approval for Obama’s stance, saying he was someone restrained who weighed matters carefully.

It was preferable for Obama to get approval of Congress than to act without it, Peres said, adding that he trusted the US president implicitly on matters regarding Israel. He expressed confidence that Obama has some basis for believing that Congress will ultimately support his decision, and that America will use force to deter Syria.

The Iranian threat, Peres said, was not a regional issue but a global one, because if Iran acquires nuclear arms, this could impact on the whole world.

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