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
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
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.
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
“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
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.