Peres to Thank Obama, U.S. in AIPAC Speech
In his speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference on Sunday, President Shimon Peres is expected to express support and confidence in Israel’s friendship with the United States and thank President Barack Obama for his political and diplomatic support, according to a report by Haaretz on Saturday night.
Sources close to Peres told Haaretz that his speech will begin by expressing gratitude to the U.S., the American people and President Obama for their close alliance with Israel. The sources said Peres believes that “sometimes it does not hurt to just say thank you.” In his speech, Peres is also expected to say that he is “counting on Obama and America to always stand by Israel.”
The sources also said that a major part of Peres’ speech will relate to Iran. Peres will once again highlight Israel's sovereignty and right to self defense against any threats.
“Israel is reluctant to fight,” Peres is expected to say. “We are a peaceful country and this will always be our first option, but I suggest that no one makes a mistake. We fought six wars that were imposed upon us and we won them all. If another war is forced upon us, we will fight and win.”
Haaretz also reported that Peres is also expected to address the importance of renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which on the weekend once again announced it plans to demand preconditions for negotiations. Peres will say that peace is not only a national security interest of Israel, but “a moral imperative of the Jewish people.”
Peres’ speech to AIPAC will be immediately followed by a speech from Obama. The two are also expected to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the conference, ahead of Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday. In his speech, according to the report, Obama will not present a new policy on Iran but will emphasize that the U.S. will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Obama is also expected to focus on the long line of actions carried out by his administration over the last three years to strengthen the security cooperation with Israel.
On Friday, Obama said that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran's nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Obama said that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
“I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff,” Obama said, adding, “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”
Obama also reiterated his support for Israel and said, “Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept. Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?”