Obama says a weak­ened Is­rael would be a ‘fail­ure’ for his pres­i­den­tial le­gacy

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has said that a weak­ened Is­rael would be a “fun­da­men­tal fail­ure of my pres­i­dency,” af­firm­ing sol­i­dar­ity with the U.S.’s long-time ally de­spite re­cent dif­fer­ences over the Iran nu­clear deal.

Obama said while Is­rael has rea­son to be con­cerned about foe Iran, he de­fended the frame­work agree­ment on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram that ne­go­tia­tors drew up last week.

Obama made the com­ments to The New York Times in a 45-minute video in­ter­view on Satur­day that was posted on Sun­day.

“I would con­sider it a fail­ure on my part, a fun­da­men­tal fail­ure of my pres­i­dency, if on my watch or as a con­se­quence of work that I’ve done, Is­rael was ren­dered more vul­ner­a­ble,” Obama said.

He said he would con­sider it “not just a strate­gic fail­ure, I think that would a moral fail­ure,” adding that no dis­agree­ments be­tween Is­rael and the United States can break their bond.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu has re­peat­edly de­nounced the agree­ment be­tween Tehran and world pow­ers as a bad deal, ar­gu­ing it will leave Iran with a large nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture.

The two lead­ers have also clashed over the Mid­dle East peace process, with Is­rael op­pos­ing the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state, while the White House is seek­ing a “two state” so­lu­tion to the con­flict.

“Even in the midst of the dis­agree­ments that I have had with Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu both on Iran as well as on the Pales­tinian is­sue, I have been con­sis­tent say­ing that our de­fense of Is­rael is un­shak­able,” Obama said.

The U.S. pres­i­dent also de­fended the Iran nu­clear deal, which paves the way for Tehran to cur­tail its nu­clear ac­tiv­ity in ex­change for re­lief from pun­ish­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions.

“There is no for­mula, there is no op­tion, to pre­vent Iran from get­ting a new weapon that will be more ef­fec­tive than the diplo­matic ini­tia­tive and frame­work that we put for­ward, and that’s demon­stra­ble,” he told the news­pa­per.

But Obama said Is­rael was “right to be con­cerned” about Iran, and sent a strong mes­sage to enemies of Is­rael.

“What we will be do­ing as we en­ter into this deal is send­ing a very clear mes­sage to the Ira­ni­ans and to the en­tire re­gion that if any­one messes with Is­rael, Amer­ica will be there,” he said.

On the Ira­nian ne­go­ti­a­tions, Obama said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei is “a pretty tough read” and “deeply sus­pi­cious of the West.”

But Obama added: “He does re­al­ize that the sanc­tions regime we put to­gether was weak­en­ing Iran over the long term, and that if in fact he wanted to see Iran en­ter into the com­mu­nity of na­tions, there would have to be changes.”

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