Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returns from US 370.
(photo credit: HERB KEINON)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned Tuesday from a five-day trip to the
US and Canada, saying it was a “very important visit” and that he succeeded in
promoting Israel’s strategic interests.
After stepping off the plane at
Ben- Gurion Airport, Netanyahu once again picked up the theme that he emphasized
during his trip: The right of Israel to defend itself as it sees fit.
are back for Purim and the reading of Megilat Esther,” Netanyahu
“Those were days when the Jews did not determine their own fate, or
were unable to protect themselves against threats. We are in a different world,
a different era.”
Netanyahu – in an obvious reference to Iran – said the
Jewish people still faced threats, but now has the ability to defend itself and
be the “masters of its own fate.”
These words upon landing echoed the
passionate speech he gave at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy
Conference on Monday night, where he said that as prime minister he would “never
let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
His speech came a day
after US President Barack Obama spoke at AIPAC and requested that all parties
tone down the rhetoric.
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“Already, there is too much loose talk of war.
Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by
driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear
program,” Obama said.
“For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s
security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for
bluster... Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from [former president]
Teddy Roosevelt: ‘Speak softly; carry a big stick.’” US Ambassador to Israel Dan
Shapiro told The Jerusalem Post
, “I have no problems with the prime minister’s
“I think the president made a general point that there has been
a lot of loose talk about this subject that has probably benefitted Iran more
than anyone else. And in the weeks ahead it is probably advisable for both
governments, the media and commentators to tone down that conversation,” he
Asked who Obama was referring to directly, Shapiro said, “it
applies to everyone.”
The ambassador – along with extended staff from
both sides – took part in the second half of the Obama- Netanyahu meeting Monday
and then flew back to Israel on the prime minister’s flight.
characterized the meeting as a “good conversation” that was a continuation of
the close coordination between the two governments. “It did not stop yesterday,
and will continue in coming weeks,” he said.
There was a “great deal of
convergence” on how Obama and Netanyahu view Iran, especially the
unacceptability of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, Shapiro said. The president
made it clear he was “absolutely determined to prevent it from
Though Obama believes sanctions and diplomacy still have
“time to work,” Shapiro said the US president stressed that containment of a
nuclear Iran was not an alternative, and that “all options are on the
Officials in Netanyahu’s entourage said the prime minister scored
three important achievements during the visit: keeping Iran at the center of the
world’s attention; focusing the discussion not only on the cost of an attack on
Iran, but also the price that will be paid if Iran obtains nuclear weapons; and
Israel’s right to act to defend itself as it sees fit.
Asked if there was
ever any doubt in the US about Israel’s sovereign right to protect itself,
Shapiro said “there is nothing new about that,” and that Obama emphasized the
point in his address to AIPAC. “This is not a new policy,” he said.
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