Netanyahu 'very satisfied' with Obama's UNGA address

Netanyahu very satisfie

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction Wednesday with US President Barack Obama's speech to the UN General Assembly. Speaking to Channel 2, the prime minister said that there were very good messages for Israel in the speech. "I found many things that were very good for us. First of all, he said, 'Let's return to peace talks without preconditions," and that's what I've been saying for the last six months," said Netanyahu. "I was happy that just like yesterday [in the tripartite meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas], that was the central message." Netanyahu also said that in the General Assembly speech, the US president had "expressed his resolute support for a Jewish state, [for Israel] as the country for the Jewish people." "I think that's the core of the conflict, or more precisely, the core of the solution to the conflict. I was happy to hear this in front of the world, the Arab world and the Palestinian people," he said. Netanyahu stressed that he would never pull back to the 1967 lines and that Obama had not demanded such a withdrawal. He said the US president had merely endorsed the Road Map, an initiative that was also supported by previous Israeli governments "who did not intend to pull back to the 1967 lines." "All the more so, I don't intend to do so," added the Israeli leader. In his speech, Obama had called for "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967." Netanyahu went on to say that he agreed with Obama's assessment of Tuesday's tripartite meeting as constructive, noting that the Palestinians had previously said they would not even meet him without a complete settlement freeze. The prime minister also praised Obama's message on stopping Iran. "The message on stopping Iran was important, but even more important is the action by the international community on stopping Iran's nuclear armament," stressed Netanyahu. He said it was "totally clear" that Obama's remarks about nuclear non-proliferation were aimed at Iran and North Korea, not Israel, adding that in his first meeting with Obama, he requested and received "a very detailed document about the years-long strategic understandings between Israel and the US on this issue." Speaking to Channel 1 on Wednesday night, Netanyahu reiterated his satisfaction with Obama's speech, and said he hoped Israel and the Palestinians were on the verge of peace talks. "Abbas had said he wouldn't even come [to Tuesday's talks] unless this and that condition was met, but he came," he said. "It was an ice-breaker." The prime minister also told the television channel that he had set "a very clear policy on transparency" toward Washington. Channel 1 also quoted Israeli officials as saying that there was a strong likelihood that Netanyahu would meet representatives of Arab states on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu was pleased that the US had lifted its demands for a complete settlement freeze as a precondition for a resumption of peace talks. A top official also told Channel 10 that Israel received the impression that the US was preparing massive sanctions on Iran, since it was convinced that the chances of fruitful dialogue were slim.