Meeting Obama, Netanyahu says Israel ‘committed to two states’

November 9, 2015  

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama have started talks in Washington Monday.

Speaking at the start of the meeting, Obama told reporters that “the security of Israel remains a top priority,” while condemning the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism and sending his “condolences to the Israelis injured in the wave of terror.”

The initial meeting featured friendly rhetoric from both leaders, but there was a markedly frosty chemistry between the two, who have clashed repeatedly over the past eight years.

Obama noted that it’s “no secret” that the United States and Israel have had a “strong disagreement” over the Iran nuclear deal, but that the “extraordinary bond” between the two countries remained as strong as ever.

He added that both countries agreed on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and as such would find “common ground” there.

Regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Obama reiterated his “strong belief that Israel has not just the right but the obligation to protect itself.” 

“I will also discuss with the Prime Minister his thoughts on… how we can get back on a path towards peace and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process even as we make sure that Israel is able to secure itself.”

“As I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities,” he added. “And that has expressed itself not only in word and in deeds. We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history.”

“The military assistance that we provide, we consider not only an important part of our obligation to the security of the state of Israel but also an important part of US security infrastructure in the region. As we make sure that one of our closest allies could not only protect ours but can also work with us in deterring terrorism and other security threats.” 

For his part, Netanyahu thanked the President for the US’s continued support for Israel, and said he was still committed to the idea of ‘two states for two peoples.” 

“I want to thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong, strengthen our alliance, which is strong,” he began. “I think it’s rooted in shared values. It’s buttressed by shared interests. It’s driven forward by a sense of a shared destiny.”

“We are obviously tested, today, in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East, as you described it,” he continued. “I think everybody can see it with the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression and terror by Iran’s proxies, and by Iran itself, and the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands, and we don’t know what will transpire.”

“And I think this is a tremendously important opportunity for us to work together, to see how we can defend ourselves against this aggression and this terror, how we can roll it back. It’s a daunting task.”

Netanyahu then referenced the two-state solution. 

“I want to make it clear. We haven’t given up our hope for peace. We’ll never give up our hope for peace,” Netanyahu said.

“I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.” 

 “I don’t think that anyone should doubt Israel’s determination to defend itself against terror and destruction, but neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us,” he added. “And I look forward to discussing with you practical ways in which we can lower the tension, increase stability, and move towards peace.” 

Netanyahu finished by upholding the urgency and importance of Israel’s security needs. 

“Israel has shouldered a tremendous defense burden over the years, and we’ve done it with the generous assistance of the United States of America,” he said. “And I want to express my appreciation to you, the appreciation of the people of Israel to you, for your efforts in this regard during our years of common service, and what you’re engaging in right now.”

“How to bolster Israel’s security, how to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, so that Israel can, as you’ve often said, defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” 

“So, for all these reasons, I want to thank you again for your hospitality, but even more so for sustaining and strengthening the tremendous friendship and alliance between Israel and the United States of America.” 

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