Entries in Benjamin Netanyahu (45)


Israeli Prime Minister Issues New Warning About Iran

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is talking tough on Iran in anticipation of President Obama's trip to his homeland this spring.

At a conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Monday, Netanyahu expressed concern that Tehran is even closer to developing a nuclear bomb than international observers anticipate.

The Israeli prime minister claimed that Iran has sped up the manufacture of crucial fissile material with centrifuges that cut the time by a third.

While not mentioning a preemptive military strike to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities, Netanyahu told the conference, "This has to be stopped.…How do you stop it?  Well, you have to put greater pressure on them.  You have to upgrade the sanctions."

Netanyahu hasn't made such dire public pronouncements since last fall, when he told the United Nations General Assembly that Iran would cross a "red line" by mid-2013, meaning a point of no return that would force Israel's hand to protect its national security.

Obama has been reluctant to talk about red lines but maintains the military option is on the table if sanctions and diplomacy fail to convince Iran it must not pursue nuclear weapons.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Netanyahu Discusses Obama's Spring Trip to Israel

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- In his first public statement since it was announced last week that President Obama will visit Israel in the spring, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the trip will reaffirm strong ties between the two governments.

Obama and Netanyahu have not always been on the same page when it comes to big issues such as Palestinian statehood and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

However, this visit to Israel, the first by Obama since he was first elected president, is expected to put the leaders on a new path to friendship or, at the very least, cool down past hostilities.

It does appear though that Netanyahu's most immediate concern is the continued threat to Israel's security by Iran and its rogue nuclear program.  He said that would top his list of items to talk about with the president.

Iran is a topic that has turned volatile between Washington and Israel.  Netanyahu has insisted on "red lines" in dealing with Iran, meaning if Tehran appears to be an imminent threat, Israel would act unilaterally to stop the danger.

Obama has been less inclined to establish "red lines" but has not ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Netanyahu Faces New Challenges After Disappointing Election Results

GALI TIBBON/AFP/GettyImages(JERUSALEM) -- Voters in Israel have surprised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but not in a way he would have preferred.

While Netanyahu will stay his country's leader -- as was expected -- his right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc only retained 31 of the Knesset's 120 seats, while the centrist There Is a Future party took 17 seats and left-of-center Labor captured 17.

Likud-Beiteinu has 42 seats in the current parliament so its demise is considered an indictment of Netanyahu's hard-line policies.

Netanyahu had believed that other right-wing parties would perform better than they did, meaning that he will likely have to moderate his stances toward the Palestinians and building settlements in the West Bank by forming a coalition with centrist groups.

The turnout at Israeli polls was about the same as 2009, about two-thirds of eligible voters.  Pundits say that the large number of undecided voters before Tuesday probably accounted for the impressive showing of There Is a Future and Labor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Israelis Voting Tuesday in General Election

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- As President Obama begins his second term, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won't know until later Tuesday if he'll continue as his country's leader.

Israelis are going to the polls in a general election that will decide the fate of Netanyahu and his joint Likud-Yisrael Beitenu party.

Most pundits say the 63-year-old prime minister will return to office.  Although his party stands to lose some seats, Netanyahu will likely cobble together a new right-wing coalition with just enough of a majority in the 120-member Knesset parliament.

Although Netanyahu is too conservative for some Israelis' tastes, he might wind up moving even further to the right in his next term because of the challenge posed by Naftali Bennett, the prime minister's former chief-of-staff.

Much to the chagrin of the Obama administration, Bennett opposes any two-state solution to solve the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also advocates annexing large swaths of the West Bank, which angers more moderate Palestinians.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Hamas Leader Dares Israel to Deploy Ground Troops

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bluff, a move that could backfire on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza straining to survive an onslaught of Israeli rockets.

As the death toll mounted on the Palestinian side Monday and with no signs of a ceasefire, Meshal dared Netanyahu to follow through on a threat to launch a ground invasion in an effort to end Hamas' own missile attacks on Israel.

Israel has at least 75,000 thousand reservists ready if the Israeli prime minister gives the word.   But Meshal boasted to reporters in Gaza City that Netanyahu would have sent troops in by now if he was serious about an invasion that the Hamas head said was Israel's way to "dictate its own terms and force us into silence."

Meshal also dismissed attempts to reach a truce with Israel, suggesting that the onus was on his group's bitter foe to stop "its aggression, assassinations and invasions" so that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip no longer have to live in fear.

Israel began "Operation Pillar of Defense" last Wednesday following non-stop rocket attacks by Hamas that have gone on for months.  The latest death toll figures put the number of Palestinian fatalities over 100, many of them civilians.  Israel suffered three deaths during the past week and as many as 80 people wounded.

Netanyahu reportedly met with his Cabinet and military leaders Monday night about what Israel's next move will be.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli PM Says Arab States Would Appreciate Strike on Iran

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- How would the Arab states react if Israel launched a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the shock would immediately be followed by praise for the action to neutralize a serious threat to the region.

Interviewed by French magazine Paris Match, Netanyahu downplayed the notion that knocking out Iran's nuclear plants would destabilize the Middle East because of imminent retaliation by Tehran.

The Israeli leader told Paris Match, "Five minutes after, contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region."

Netanyahu's reasoning is that Iran is not popular among its Arab neighbors who also understand "that a nuclear armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel."

The U.S. is opposed to Israel acting unilaterally to destroy the Iranian nuclear threat but hasn't ruled out that option if strong international sanctions fail to stop Tehran from ultimately building an atomic bomb.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Benjamin Netanyahu Moves Up National Elections in Israel

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Election season is coming earlier than expected in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday he was moving up the vote because of disagreements with political opponents over the 2013 national budget.

Netanyahu, who leads the coalition government, said the elections would take place within the next three months.

While budget issues might be the public reason for moving up the elections from next autumn, Netanyahu is hoping the accelerated vote will hinder his political foes from bolstering their own platforms.

Most observers say the prime minister was already tipping his hand during an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month when he spoke of establishing a "red line" to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Privately, Netanyahu is said to be concerned that President Obama will be reelected and that he might experience fallout from his friendship with GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

During his announcement of the early vote, Netanyahu tooted his own horn by saying, "In a few months, the tenure of the most stable government in decades will come to an end.  This stability has helped us achieve the two main objectives we promised the citizens of Israel -- to strengthen security at a time when a dangerous upheaval is gripping the Middle East, and [to fortify] the economy during…a financial turmoil."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israeli Govt Tweets Article Criticizing Obama’s Relationship with Israel

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

(NEW YORK) -- Amid tension between the U.S. and Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an official Israeli government twitter account linked Tuesday to an article criticizing President Obama for “failing to put Israel at ease.”

“Israeli official: Obama doesn’t give us same sense Clinton did that he’ll be there if things go bad – Times of #Israel,” the official Twitter feed of the Israeli government press office posted.

The Times of Israel article in question quotes an anonymous government official saying, “President Clinton made us feel like he had our back [at Camp David].  When we made concessions that were greater than anything an Israeli government had ever offered, we felt he’d be there if things went bad.  Would he have been there?  I don’t know.  But it felt that way, and it put us in a different frame of mind.  President Obama doesn’t give us the same sense that he’d be there.”

The tweet came on the same day that Obama issued a stern warning to Iran before the U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. will “do what we must” to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that the time for diplomacy is “not unlimited.”

Obama, however, stopped short of drawing “red lines” that Iran cannot cross if it wants to avoid an American military response, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded.  Instead of ultimatums, the Obama administration has supported diplomatic negotiations and sanctions as the best approach to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“We’ve been very clear about certain red lines and our national security interests,” the president told The Des Moines Register in an interview Tuesday.  “We’re not going to be able to control every aspect [of Middle East conflicts]…. What we can make sure of is our core interests are protected and that in our interactions with these countries that we’re always upholding our core ideals and our core values.”

Obama has come under fire for not meeting with Netanyahu while he is in the U.S. for the U.N. General Assembly this week, citing scheduling conflicts.

“The president has met with and spent time on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu more than with any leader since he took office,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked why Obama is not making time to meet with Netanyahu.  “That is reflective of the importance of and the closeness of the relationship between the United States and Israel, the importance of and the priority that the president places on America’s support for Israel’s security.”

“That cooperation and deep partnership continues every day.  And the president had a very constructive conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu recently and I’m sure he will in the future,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Says He Can’t Imagine Saying No to Meeting Netanyahu

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Mitt Romney said Wednesday that he couldn’t “imagine saying no” to a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. His comment came a day after The White House announced that President Obama and the Israeli leader would not meet in person later this month when Netanyahu is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

“I stand with our friends in Israel, I stand with our allies,” Romney said while shaking hands with supporters in Florida today. “I can’t ever imagine, if the prime minister of Israel asked to meet with me, I can’t ever imagine saying no.”

“They’re our friends, they’re our closest allies in the Middle East,” said Romney.

The White House said Tuesday that the Netanyahu’s and Obama’s schedules made an in-person meeting impossible, despite the fact that the two leaders will travel to New York for the U.N. General Assembly just days apart from one another. The Obama administration also denied reports that Netanyahu offered to come to Washington to meet with the president.

Obama and Netanyahu spoke by telephone Tuesday evening, and according to the White House “discussed the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues.”

Earlier this week Netanyahu spoke about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a topic Romney and Obama disagree on. The Israeli leader criticized the Obama administration, saying that those who refuse to put “red lines” before Iran have no moral right to give Israel a “red light.”

Romney met with Netanyahu during his foreign trip in July and received a warm welcome from the prime minister, who referred to the presidential candidate by his first name, “Mitt.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Will Not Meet with Israel’s Netanyahu This Month

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will not meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister is in the United States later this month for the U.N. General Assembly, because the two leaders’ schedules make a meeting impossible, the White House said Tuesday.

“The President arrives in New York for the UN on Monday, September 24th and departs on Tuesday, September 25th. The Prime Minister doesn’t arrive in New York until later in the week. They’re simply not in the city at the same time. But the President and PM are in frequent contact and the PM will meet with other senior officials, including Secretary Clinton, during his visit,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement.

The announcement comes amid tension between the United States and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program and follows Netanyahu’s declaration earlier this week that those who refuse to put “red lines” before Iran have no moral right to give Israel a “red light.”

The Obama administration has opposed issuing ultimatums, backing diplomatic negotiations and sanctions as the best approach to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions.

An Israeli official told ABC News that Netanyahu’s office requested a meeting with Obama but was told that because of the president’s tight schedule it wouldn’t be possible. The official admitted that with just a day and a half open, the window wasn’t very big, although the official said the Israelis did offer to go to Washington if a meeting in New York was not possible.

The meeting was requested when the trip was made official more than a week ago and was declined “in the last few days,” according to the Israeli official.

However, the White House released a statement later Tuesday that no such request was made for the two leaders to meet in Washington.

"Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied," the White House statement said.

This will be the first time Netanyahu has visited the United States as prime minister and not met with Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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