As President Barack Obama sat down for a meeting today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, he told reporters that the two would discuss ways to achieve a “sustainable peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.
With Netanyahu sitting to his right in the Oval Office, Obama said: “We have to find a way to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes … but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well. And so we’ll discuss extensively both the situation in rebuilding Gaza but also how can we find a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
In his comments, which lasted just three minutes, Obama said the two men would also discuss efforts to “isolating the cancer” of ISIS through a coalition of forces and the “progress being made” with respect to negotiations aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Obama said this is a “high priority for Israel and the U.S.”
In his remarks, Netanyahu thanked Obama for the “unflinching support you gave Israel during our difficult days” during the 50-day war with Hamas this summer. He cited in particular the American-financed Iron Dome anti-missile system that he said “saved so many lives across the board.”
Netanyahu said he wanted to “discuss the enormous challenges facing the U.S. and Israel.” He said there is a “new Middle East that presents dangers and opportunities,” and he said “everybody” should join the U.S. in defeating ISIS and in “preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.”
The prime minister raised concerns about the lifting of sanctions against Iran ahead of the negotiations and leaving Iran as a “threshold nuclear power.”
“I firmly hope that under your leadership that does not happen,” he said.
“Out of the new situation there emerges a commonality of interests between Israel and the U.S. and we should seize on them to advance a more secure and prosperous Middle East,” the Israeli leader continued. “I am committed to a two states for two people based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements on the ground.”
Repeating a refrain he made in his remarks at the United Nations Monday, Netanyahu added that he would like to get Arab countries to “advance this hopeful agenda.”