Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Speaking to a powerful pro-Israel lobby group, President Obama emphasized he is prepared to pursue a “military effort” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But on the eve of a widely anticipated meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama also warned against “too much loose talk of war,” saying that actually helps Tehran by increasing energy prices, reports the Associated Press.
Obama called on Israel to tone down the anti-Iran rhetoric, saying it needs to give sanctions more time to work and further isolate Tehran. "For the sake of Israel's security, America's security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster," Obama said.
The president used his speech at the annual American-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference to defend his record on Israel, pushing back against what he described as distortions of his record amid a fierce political campaign.
“There should not be a shred of doubt by now: When the chips are down, I have Israel's back,” Obama said. “This is why if during this political season you hear some questions regarding my administration's support for Israel, remember that it's not backed up by the facts.”
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were scheduled to speak to the AIPAC conference via satellite on Tuesday.
Netanyahu has made it clear he will ask Obama on Monday “to specify the ‘red lines’ that would warrant a military strike from the U.S. if Iran crossed them,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Some analysts believe that Israel could take advantage of the partisan politics of an election year to force Obama “to give at least tacit support if Israel were to take military action against Iran,” notes Reuters.
At the AIPAC conference “it often seemed as if the Palestinian question … no longer existed,” notes the New York Times. Although the issue has long been at center stage in these conferences, this year most of the discussions has centered around Iran and its nuclear ambitions.