Barack Obama has strained American relations with Israel due to his greater willingness to accommodate the Palestinians than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, he has stood behind the Israelis in regards to regional threats such as Hamas and Iran, and states that he supports Israel's sovereignty.
In signing the measure Friday, Obama spoke of the "unshakeable commitment" of his government to Israel's security and announced a previously authorized $70 million in U.S. funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system...
"This is a program that has been critical in terms of providing security and safety for Israeli families," Obama said of the Iron Dome system. "It is a program that has been tested and has prevented missile strikes inside of Israel. And it is testimony of the leadership of folks sitting here that we are going to be able to lock in that funding to make sure that program continues and that we are standing by our friends In Israel when it comes to these kinds of attacks."
With Israel warning of a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday to give diplomacy and economic sanctions a chance to work before resorting to military action...
The prime minister thanked Mr. Obama for affirming, in his speech on Sunday, that “when it comes to security, Israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions.”
Obama had been in what he thought was a private discussion at the G20 summit in Cannes last week with French president Nicolas Sarkozy but their comments were picked up by a live microphone overheard by journalists. Sarkozy said: "I cannot bear Netanyahu. He's a liar."
Obama could have dissented but did not. According to a version from a French interpreter quoted by Reuters, Obama replied: "You're fed up with him but I have to deal with him more often than you."
"Obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that's going to happen between friends," Obama said.
"But what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows Israel to defend itself against threats, and that Israel's security will remain paramount in U.S. evaluations of any prospective peace deal."
A day before the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank — should be the basis of a deal. While the 1967 borders have long been viewed as the foundation for a peace agreement, Mr. Obama’s formula of land swaps to compensate for disputed territory created a new benchmark for a diplomatic solution...
The Israeli government immediately protested, saying that for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders would leave it “indefensible.”
The Obama administration is struggling to restart direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, which stalled last month after the expiration of a partial freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank...
When asked in about Israel’s plans for 1,000 housing units for a contested part of East Jerusalem, Mr. Obama said, “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”
“I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough,” the president added during his visit to Indonesia. “Each of these incremental steps can end up breaking trust.”
During Tuesday's meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, the two leaders discussed the global challenge of nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation system.
They also discussed calls for a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East, which was peoposed during the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) review conference in New York and which Netanyahu said he would not take part in because it intends to single out Israel.
The Obama administration has pushed to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and has called on Israel to stop building settlements on territory it captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Netanyahu's meeting at the White House came the day after he defended his government's plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem, a move that has strained ties with Israel's largest ally.
"We objected to this announcement because we are committed to Israel and its security, which we believe depends on a comprehensive peace -- because we are determined to keep moving forward along a path that ensures Israel's future as a secure and democratic Jewish state living in peace with its Palestinian and Arab neighbors," [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said.
President Obama has reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections, three officials familiar with the understanding said.
The officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, said Mr. Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May...
Israel had been nervous that Mr. Obama would not continue the 1969 understanding because of his strong support for nonproliferation and priority on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
In an interview that aired last night and this morning, President Obama told NPR that in terms of the U.S. relationship with Israel, "part of being a good friend is being honest. And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative – not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests. And that’s part of a new dialogue that I’d like to see encouraged in the region."
Saying two states “would provide the Israelis and Palestinians the peace and security that they need,” President Obama said he was “very appreciative that President Abbas shares that view” and suggested that Netanyahu – who does not publicly support such a move – needs to come on board.
“When Prime Minister Netanyahu was here last week, I reiterated to him that the framework that’s been provided by the ‘road map’ is one that they can advance the interests of Israel, can advance the interests of the Palestinian people and can also advance the interests of the United States,” Mr. Obama said.
Weighing in on the conflict for the first time following his inauguration, Obama said that going forward, Hamas must end rocket fire at Israel, and Israel must "complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza." Although those steps were taken this week, low-level violence has marred the fragile cease-fire.
Obama said his administration will support a "credible" system of ending smuggling into Gaza.