Netanyahu praises Obama’s AIPAC speech

Canadian PM Harper does not publicly sign on to the prime minister's three terms for Iran talks.

By
March 4, 2012 20:10
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Ottawa

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Ottawa 390. (photo credit: Mark Neyman / GPO)

 
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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 leaders.

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“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 an option.”

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.



Following 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 Monday.

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 considerations.

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