Netanyahu: Israel has right to pre-emptive attack on Iran

 

Taking sharply different stands, President Barack Obama urged pressure and diplomacy to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb while Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasised his nation's right to a pre-emptive attack.

Even in proclaiming unity, neither leader gave ground on how to resolve the crisis.

Seated together in the Oval Office, Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu at times tried to speak for each other, and other times spoke past one another.

The president and prime minister are linked by the history and necessity of their nations' deep alliance, if not much personal warmth, and both sought to steer the Iran agenda on their terms.

"I know that both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically," Mr Obama said. "We understand the costs of any military action."

If he agreed, Mr Netanyahu said nothing about sanctions or talks with Iran, or Mr Obama's position that there still is time to try to deter Iran peacefully.

Instead, Mr Netanyahu drew attention back to Mr Obama's acknowledgement that Israel is a sovereign land that can protect itself how it sees fit.

"I believe that's why you appreciate, Mr President, that Israel must reserve the right to defend itself," Mr Netanyahu said.

Israel, he added, must remain "the master of its fate".

Israel has not yet decided whether to launch a unilateral strike on Iran, a point underscored in the White House meetings.

Across days of comments, speeches and interviews, Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu left no doubt about where they stand on Iran.

Far less clear is whether they have done anything to alter each other's position in what has become a moment of reckoning over Iran, and an important foreign policy issue in the US presidential race.

Both are adamant Iran must not develop a nuclear bomb. Mr Obama's aim is to keep Israel from launching an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, fearing that would do little lasting good toward the goal and engulf the region and the United States in another war.

Senior Obama administration officials said the talks at the White House left the two sides closer than they were a week ago.

The Israelis walked away with prominent statements from Mr Obama that he would not stand for containing a nuclear-armed Iran, and that the crisis was in the United States' interests to solve.

In turn, Israelis did acknowledge privately they would prefer a diplomatic solution, despite enormous scepticism about the Iranian government, officials said.

And there were no demands that Mr Obama set a new "red line" of what it would take for a US strike - the US position remains that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.

Mr Netanyahu emphasised that Israel must defend itself from an Iranian nuclear threat.

He said after his talks with Mr Obama: "I think I was listened to and understood."

The last time the two men met in the Oval Office, in May, Mr Netanyahu lectured Mr Obama in front of reporters as differences over Mideast peace unfolded.

This time, their body language as they spoke was not so glaring but still telling: Mr Obama addressed the media; Mr Netanyahu spoke directly to Mr Obama and locked on him.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there