Readout of the President's Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel
President Obama hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu on his fourth visit to the White House today, and they had a very constructive discussion. The President and the Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong, unbreakable bonds that characterize the special relationship between the United States and Israel.
The President and the Prime Minister reviewed the progress made so far in Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, and discussed ways to advance to direct talks, in order to reach an agreement that ends the conflict with a secure Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with an independent and viable Palestinian state. They agreed that the ultimate goal is a comprehensive Middle East peace between Israel and all its neighbors, including the Palestinians, Syria, and Lebanon, and normalized relations with all Arab states.
The President welcomed the Prime Minister’s efforts to implement Israel’s new policy on Gaza, including liberalizing and increasing the volume of goods flowing through the land crossings, publishing a limited list of goods prohibited from entering Gaza, and accelerating the approval of international projects. They explored additional steps that can be taken in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and international partners to improve life for the people of Gaza, and discussed how to prevent the flow of weapons to Hamas and secure the release of Gilad Shalit. The President reiterated U.S. policy toward Hamas, emphasizing that Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist if it is to play any constructive role in achieving Middle East peace.
In light of the threat posed to both our nations and to regional stability by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the President and the Prime Minister reiterated their strong support for the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 and the additional national measures that have been taken since its adoption, and discussed the need to build upon that strong foundation as we continue to strengthen the international coalition dedicated to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The President reaffirmed the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and the leaders reviewed the significant progress made in recent months to expand coordination between our militaries, to preserve and strengthen Israel’s qualitative military edge, and to fortify Israel’s ballistic missile defenses, including through additional U.S. financial support for Iron Dome. The President told the Prime Minister he recognizes that Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats, and that only Israel can determine its security needs. The President pledged to continue U.S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
The President and the Prime Minister discussed the global challenge of nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation system. They also exchanged views on the regional conference to discuss a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery referenced in the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document. The President informed the Prime Minister that, as a cosponsor charged with enabling the proposed conference, the United States will insist that such a conference will be for discussion aimed at an exchange of views on a broad agenda, to include regional security issues, verification and compliance, and all categories of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery. The President emphasized that the conference will only take place if all countries feel confident that they can attend, and that any efforts to single out Israel will make the prospects of convening such a conference unlikely. In this regard, the two leaders also agreed to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA General Conference in September. The President emphasized that the United States will continue its long standing practice to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel’s security, and support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and stability.
The President and the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with a number of joint U.S.-Israeli initiatives in the areas of science and technology, renewable energy, and agricultural development, and agreed to continue and look to expand such efforts.