US President Barack Obama at the Rose Garden of the White House.
(photo credit: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO / PETE SOUZA)
US President Barack Obama voiced his commitment to Israel's security in an interview published by Forward on Monday, saying that the US and the Jewish state should get back to increasing security cooperation after the current debate on the Iran nuclear deal has subsided.
"I think that once we have completed the congressional debate and the deal is in the process of being implemented, it will be important for my administration and the Israeli government to move forward on what I’ve been calling for since April, when the political framework agreement in Lausanne was first announced, and that is to sit down and ask the question, what are the major security challenges that we together face in the region, and how can we build on the already robust, unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation that we have to make our security arrangements even stronger?" Obama told Forward.
In particular, he mentioned the importance of finding ways to increase intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel to prevent Iran's proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, from obtaining more missiles with which to target Tel Aviv.
Obama reiterated that his disagreement with Israel over the terms of the Iran nuclear deal was a "fight within the family."
"Over the next several weeks as we get to the conclusion of the congressional debate, I think it is important for everybody to just take a breath for a moment and recognize that people on both sides of the debate love the United States and also love Israel," he told Forward
Obama rejected claims that he had used "incendiary language" against critics of the deal, or called them "warmongers."
"At no point have I ever suggested that those who are critical of the deal are 'warmongers.' What I’ve said is that if we reject the deal, the logical conclusion is that if we want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, military strikes will be the last option remaining at some point. It may not be under my administration; it might be under the next one. And that is something that has to be taken into account in this debate," he said.
Obama said that he was hurt by claims that he was anti-Semitic. "There’s not a smidgen of evidence for it, other than the fact that there have been times where I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue," he argued.
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