Netanyahu To Tell Obama: 'Time Is Running Out' on Iran

By Barak Ravid and Aluf Benn (Haaretz)

Published May 18, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will use his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday to stress that “time is running out” for stopping Iran’s nuclear program, so Obama must not spend more than a few months on his planned dialogue with Tehran unless real progress is achieved.

If progress is not achieved within a few months, the United States must move quickly to more aggressive measures against Iran, Netanyahu will say.

The prime minister’s aides say he is encouraged by an interview in Newsweek Sunday in which Obama says he is not “naive” about Iran and is not taking “any options off the table.” The purpose of the planned dialogue is to “offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms,” according to Obama. The president signaled that he has no intention of pursuing regime change in Iran, but stressed that Iran should be able “to maintain its Islamic character” while not being “a threat to its neighbors.”

He said he understands why Israel views Iran as an “existential threat,” and that because of this, Israelis’ “calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They’re right there in range, and I don’t think it’s my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are.” Obama can “make an argument” that his approach “offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives.”

Iran will be a key issue on Netanyahu’s agenda for the meeting. While he does not oppose the planned dialogue, he wants more details on how it will be conducted. Israel says the dialogue must include clear conditions, including on Iran’s nuclear activity during the talks, and a clear time limit. This view is shared by some senior American officials, including the special envoy on Iran, Dennis Ross. Israel says the time limit should be around three months.

National Security Council chairman Uzi Arad, who is accompanying Netanyahu, told reporters Sunday that “no issue is more important for Israel” than Iran, “and the U.S. administration is aware of this. There’s a feeling of great urgency, and we’re in a race against time.”

The Americans understand the timeline very well, and “neither side will dictate to the other,” Arad added.

On another key issue, Israeli-Palestinian talks, Netanyahu’s aides say he does not intend to accede to America’s request that he express support for a two-state solution, which is likely to lead to conflict.

“There may be differences of opinion” with Obama, Arad acknowledged, “but the practical approach of both parties will determine what happens.”

Netanyahu will present a series of security demands that he views as essential to any final-status agreement, including demilitarization of the West Bank and Israeli control of its airspace. He will cite Hamas’ control of Gaza as a major barrier to progress.

On the settlements, he will propose establishing a bilateral Israeli-American committee to reach understandings on reining in construction and evacuating outposts. He will also demand that such Israeli steps be matched by Palestinian progress on fighting terror.

The Palestinian Authority, the Arab states and Europe are all urging Obama to pressure Israel to stop settlement construction, and many senior administration officials and senior Democrats in Congress support this approach.

Netanyahu has said he will not build new settlements, but will permit “natural growth” in existing ones.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.