Deal or No Deal? U.S. Denies Obama-Netanyahu 'Package Deal'
The White House denied on Thursday the reports that U.S. President Barack Obama offered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to give Israel advanced “bunker buster” missiles and long-range planes if Israel agreed not to attack Iran during 2012.
“The President did not reach such an agreement nor did he make such an offer,” Channel 10 quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as having said during a press conference. “The two countries cooperate at various levels, including on the military and security levels, but this issue was not discussed at the meeting. The reports are not accurate.”
A report in the Ma'ariv newspaper earlier on Thursday said that Obama made the offer to Netanyahu during their meeting in Washington earlier this week.
The report was based on discussions with diplomatic officials who were privy to the conversation the two leaders held. The diplomats said that Obama had offered a “package deal,” whereby the U.S. would not seek to prevent an Israeli attack in 2013 – after the U.S. presidential election in November. That didn't mean that the U.S. was giving Israel a “green light” for an attack; it was more like a “yellow light,” which perhaps could be interpreted as close to red than green, the diplomats said.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Netanyahu set a general timetable for a possible strike on Iran, for the first time.
Netanyahu said that Israel has not yet made a decision on whether to attack the Iranian nuclear sites. He added that the timing of such a strike "is not a matter of days or weeks," but on the other hand, "it is not a matter of years."
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, lauded Obama on Thursday for saying he had no plans to strike Iran.
“Two days ago, we heard the president of America say: ‘We are not thinking of war with Iran.’ This is good. Very good. These are wise words. This is an exit from illusion,” Khamenei said, according to state television.
However, Khamenei also criticized the U.S. president for “still harboring illusions” that sanctions would force Iran to give up uranium enrichment, a key demand of world powers.