Obama: Israel has right to self-defense

Presidential candidate says US and Israel have shared interest in stopping Iran develop nukes.

obama points 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama points 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stressed the importance of a firm international front against Iran and the necessity of military operations to defend Israel from terrorism, in a conversation with Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday. "The ability to succeed with our strategy depends on the determined and unwavering stance of the international community against terror and against Iran," she told him, as communicated through the Israeli Embassy. She said that similar efforts to nurture moderates and condemn extremists called for international resolve against Hamas and its actions. Obama, according to his campaign, spoke of a shared US-Israeli interest in ensuring that Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons and ends its support of terrorism. He defended Israel's right to self-defense and expressed "admiration and support" for its commitment to negotiations with the Palestinians. Livni is also expected to speak with Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, as well as the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, on her visit to the US. On Tuesday and late Monday, Livni met with US Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and congressional leaders. Her meetings come at a time of heightened international criticism of Israel for its announcements of new construction in a West Bank settlement, as well as plans for further building in east Jerusalem. When questioned about the reports, Rice said Monday that "US policy on this is well known, and we have said that it is important to do everything possible to make the atmosphere for Annapolis as good as possible." US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack gave a stronger response the same day, however. He described the Israeli moves as "not helpful to the process." But he said the process needed to continue to move forward, and that meetings that US monitor Lt.-Gen. William Fraser would be holding with each side would do just that. Fraser is set to consult with both Israelis and Palestinians about their road map commitments and then hold a trilateral meeting on Thursday. "This is an opportunity for both sides to talk about what they are doing to fulfill the road map obligations," he said. "It is important that we don't get [into] a finger-pointing exercise and each side talking about what the other side is not doing." McCormack also pointed to the domestic challenges facing both governments. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas temporarily suspended talks with Israel after Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip climbed over 100 during an Israeli effort to stop rocket fire from there. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is facing increasingly strident calls from those who oppose talks with the Palestinians, following the murder of eight yeshiva students in a Jerusalem terror attack last week. "Both sides have their domestic politics," McCormack said. "You have seen over the course of the past couple of weeks real challenges to the leaders on both sides, both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, that absent a focus and dedication to the process would have derailed it."