Netanyahu, Obama: US – Israel Ties ‘Unbreakable’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked outgoing US President Barack Obama for his friendship with Israel at the United Nations on Wednesday, during what may have been the last face-to-face encounter during Obama’s presidency.
“I want to thank you for the extensive security and intelligence cooperation between our two countries,” Netanyahu told Obama. “I don’t think people at large understand the breadth and depth of the cooperation, but I know and I want to thank you on behalf of all of the people of Israel.”
“Your voice will be heard even after your presidency is over,” Netanyahu added. “You will always be a welcome guest in Israel.”
President Obama acknowledged that his term in office is drawing to a close but still expressed a desire to achieve a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Soon I will be finishing my term, but I want to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace, and I will be discussing it with the prime minister,” said Obama.
Leading up to Obama’s final UN address as president, some pundits suggested that Obama could abandon long-standing US practice to veto one-sided UN Security Council resolutions against Israel.The threat is serious enough that 88 senators, including Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, asked the president on Tuesday not to change Washington’s UN policy vis-a-vis Israel.
“The only way to resolve the conflicts between the two is through direct negotiations that lead to a sustainable two-state solution with a future state of Palestine living in peace and security with Israel. This outcome would provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability,” the senators wrote.
The White House’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes stressed that the President does not intend to take on another Mideast peace initiative before leaving office. Obama however, expressed concern about trends on the ground that should be addressed.
“Clearly there is great danger of not just terrorism but also flare-ups of violence,” Obama said. “We do have concerns around settlement activity as well, and our hope is that we can continue to be an effective partner with Israel in finding a path to peace.”
“Our hope is that in these conversations we get a sense of how Israel sees the next few years, what the opportunities are and what the challenges are, in order to assure that we keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel, at peace with its neighbors and a Palestinian state that meets the aspirations of their people,” Obama added.
Both leaders also attested to the “unbreakable” bond between Israel and the United States.
“Our alliance has grown decade after decade, through successive presidents, bipartisan Congress and with the overwhelming support of the American people,” Netanyahu remarked. “It is an unbreakable bond.”
“As Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned, the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable,” commented Obama. “It is based on common values, family ties, a recognition that the Jewish state of Israel is one of our most important allies.”