Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday hailed Arab countries willing to work with the United States to fight the Islamic State.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
“There is definitely a new Middle East,” Netanyahu said while seated next to Obama in the Oval Office, his first visit to the White House since Israel's summer war with Hamas. “I think it poses new dangers but it also presents new opportunities. As for the dangers, Israel fully supports your effort and your leadership to defeat ISIS, we think everybody should support this.”
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain are among the countries that have partnered with the U.S. in airstrikes against the militants or have expressed their support.
“Out of the new situation, there emerges a commonality of interest between Israel and leading Arab states,” Netanyahu said. “I think we should work very hard together to seize on those common interests and build a positive program to advance a more secure, more prosperous and more peaceful Middle East. I remain committed to a vision of peace with two states for two peoples based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements on the ground.”
Netanyahu warned against easing sanctions on Iran's nuclear development, as the Nov. 24 deadline for a deal between Iran, the U.S. and European allies moves closer.
“Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you have worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu said. “I firmly hope that under your leadership that would not happen.”
Obama said the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians cannot continue.
“I think the American people should be very proud of the contributions that we made to Iron Dome program to protect the lives of Israelis at a time when rockets were pouring into Israel on a regular basis,” Obama said, referring to the missile defense system that protected Israel from the Hamas attacks this summer.
“We also recognize that we have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their homes and schoolchildren in their schools from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we won't have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well,” he said. “So we'll discuss extensively both the situation of rebuilding Gaza but also how can we find a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”