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      Steinitz: Obama Won't Interfere in Matters of Defense

      Obama told Netanyahu that he will not tell him how to act when it comes to matters of Israel’s defense, says Minister Steinitz.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 3/22/2013, 12:15 AM

      Minister Yuval Steinitz
      Minister Yuval Steinitz
      Flash 90

      International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz is optimistic that U.S. President Barack Obama will not interfere if Israel chooses to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.

      Speaking to Channel 10 News on Thursday, Steinitz referred to Obama’s remarks during his visit to Israel and said that the President’s visit is “very important and very good”, adding that Obama said in meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that just as Israel does not interfere with the White House’s decisions, he will not tell Netanyahu how to act when it comes to matters concerning Israel’s security.

      Steinitz, who took part in the closed door the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu on Wednesday, before the two held a joint press conference, said that the Israeli media exaggerated in its predictions about Obama’s attitude towards Israel and Netanyahu during his second term.

      “Three months ago we heard about the disconnect and the coolness between Obama and Netanyahu,” he said. “I sat there for three hours and tried to find a hint of that, but couldn’t. The atmosphere was very good and the conversation was very open.”

      "Obama told the Palestinians, ‘Do not demand preconditions or a settlement freeze in exchange for negotiations.’ He implied that it was only a Palestinian excuse to avoid negotiations,” added Steinitz, referring to Obama’s press conference in Ramallah on Thursday.

      Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel "will never hand over the right to defend ourselves, even to our best friend – and we have no better friend than the United States."

      He added, "Sanctions on Iran have not succeeded in stopping the nuclear move, and you know that a credible military threat must be added to the sanctions."

      Obama said, "We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran," Obama said. "We prefer to resolve this diplomatically, and there is still time to do so. The international community will continue to increase pressure on Iran, and we will continue to consult closely with Israel."