Obama: Israel ‘One of Our Closest Allies’ in the Middle East

Fred Lucas | September 24, 2012 | 4:29pm EDT
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President Barack Obama. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House sought to assert its commitment to Israel on Monday after President Barack Obama referred to the country as only “one of our closest allies” in the Middle East on Sunday -- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated today that “Israel is our closest ally in the region.”

In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, correspondent Steve Kroft said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “had inserted himself into the presidential campaign, criticizing the president and pushing him to lay out conditions for a military attack against Iran.”

Kroft then asked Obama, “You're saying you don't feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don't feel any pressure?”

Obama said, “When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what's right for the American people and I am going to block out any noise that's out there.”

“Now, I feel an obligation – not pressure but obligation -- to make sure that we're in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply,” Obama said. “They're one of our closest allies in the region. And we've got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel's existence.”

White House PRess Secretary Jay Carney. (AP)

During the White House press briefing on Monday, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about what the president meant by “one of our.” Carney asserted that Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East.

“Isreal is our closest ally in the region,” he said.  “We have an unshakable bond with Israel. We have a commitment to Israel and Israel’s security that is profound and unique.”

“And that is demonstrated by the policies of this administration as well as the policies of  the president’s predecessors,” said Carney. “As I just said in answer to some other questions, President Obama has taken action to assist Israel with its security that is unprecedented. The depth of our cooperation and the amount of our assistance has never been greater. And you’ve heard Isreali leaders verify that. The president’s commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is categorical and clear.”

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