'Frustrated' Obama defends record on Israel

Courting the Jewish vote, US President Barack Obama says his administration has been the strongest on Israel's security, acknowledges "frustration" on peace process in speech to Union for Reform Judaism.

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December 16, 2011 22:58
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama [file]

US President Barack Obama 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque )

 
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US President Barack Obama courted Jewish voters and defended his record on Israel in a fiery keynote address to the Union for Reform Judaism outside Washington, DC on Friday.

"No US administration has done more in support of Israel's security than ours. None. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. It is a fact," Obama said forcefully, his voice betraying hints of frustration at having to defend his record in the face of sharp criticism of his Israel policy.

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To back up his position, Obama cited American cooperation with Israel on developing the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, efforts to clear out the besieged Israeli embassy in Cairo in September, and actions to counter attempts to delegitimize Israel in international forums like the United Nations.

Shoring up his hard line on Iran, Obama reiterated that no options were off the table in preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and touted his administration's imposition of "the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced. We haven't just talked about it, we've done it."

Acknowledging tensions with Israel over the peace process that have largely resulted from differences over settlement policy, Obama told the room of American Jews, "I know that many of you share my frustration, sometimes, in terms of the state of the peace process."

Citing the Jewish saying that one is not required to finish the work, but neither can he desist from it, Obama stated that America would work for "an independent Palestine alongside a secure, Jewish state of Israel," even if that outcome would not be actualized under his administration. "The fact that peace is hard can't deter us from trying."

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"America's commitment to Israel and my commitment to Israel and its security is unshakable," the President concluded, repeatedly re-emphasizing his points.  "We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts."

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