Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to publicly harden his line against Iran during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5, according to a senior Israeli official.
Israel wants Obama to make further-reaching declarations than the vague assertion that “all options are on the table,” the official said. In particular, Netanyahu wants Obama to state unequivocally that the United States is preparing for a military operation in the event that Iran crosses certain “red lines,” said the official; Israel feels this will increase pressure on Iran by making clear that there exists a real U.S. threat.
Officials in both Jerusalem and Washington acknowledge a serious lack of trust between Israel and the United States with regard to the issue of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. A senior U.S. official who is involved in preparing Netanyahu’s visit to the United States — and who asked to remain anonymous — said intensive preparations are underway to guarantee the success of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama and to bridge this lack of trust.
The White House proposed to the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday that the two release a joint statement following the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. The goal of the announcement would be to bridge apparent disagreements between the United States and Israel, and to present a single U.S.-Israeli front in order to leverage pressure on Iran. To date, the United States still has not proposed a text for such an announcement.
According to sources, the lack of trust between Israeli and U.S. officials appears to stem from, among other things, a mutual feeling that the other country is interfering in its own internal political affairs. Netanyahu suspects that the U.S. administration is attempting to turn Israeli public opinion against an attack on Iran, say sources.