Washington, Dec. 16 – President Obama strongly defended his administration’s “unshakeable” relationship with – and support for – Israel in a speech today to a major American Jewish group.
“No U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel's security than ours,” Obama told delegates to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial convention. “Don' let anyone else tell you otherwise. It is a fact."
Before the speech, Obama met on the sidelines of the conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who had already spoke at the convention, for about a half hour.
The President has used similar lines to rebut critics in the past, as in late November at an exclusive fundraiser with Jewish donors in New York City. “This administration – I try not to pat myself too much on the back – but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration,” he said then.
Republican contenders for the party’s presidential nomination have argued in recent debates that the administration has been less than friendly to the Israeli government. Mitt Romney said last week that Obama had “chastened” Israel and had been weak on Iran.
Obama also emphasized the need for a two-state solution and a Palestinian state.
"I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace, two states for two peoples, and independent state of Palestine alongside a secure Jewish state of Israel,” he said.
Defending the U.S. stance towards Iran, Obama said his administration would “take no options off the table” in dealing with the Islamic republic’s drive for a nuclear weapon.
Unprecedented sanctions against Iran that target its Central Bank, which the President indicated he would sign, passed the House and Senate this week.
“We have composed ... the hardest hitting sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced. We haven’t just talked about it,” Obama said.
The President also said his administration has led the fight "against international attempts to delegitimize Israel," citing the United States’ boycott of the “Durban 3” conference in September. In that month, the he gave a speech at the UN General Assembly denouncing the Palestinian unilateral attempt at statehood.