Obama to Peres: Israel’s Security a Vital US Interest

June 26, 2014

3 min read

While nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 appear to be faltering, United States President Barack Obama assured Israeli President Shimon Peres that the US would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Meeting at the White House on Wednesday in what is Peres’s final foreign trip as president, Obama reiterated that the US continues to take into account Israel’s security concerns while negotiating with the Islamic Republic.

Obama told Peres that while there were still issues to be worked out with Iran, he hopes that a permanent agreement will be reached by July 20 to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Shimon Peres and Barack Obama in the Oval Office, June 25, 2014. (Photo: Official Facebook Page of Shimon Peres)
Shimon Peres and Barack Obama in the Oval Office, June 25, 2014. (Photo: Official Facebook Page of Shimon Peres)

After being briefed by Obama, Peres told journalists that he hopes the final agreement reached with Iran will be similar to the agreement Syria was forced to accept, in which the regime promised to part with its chemical weapon stockpile and all related infrastructure.

With such an agreement in place, Peres said he felt confident that Israel would consider removing sanctions against Iran.

During the visit to the White House, Peres participated in three meetings – a roundtable discussion with Obama and American representatives of Jewish communities, a working lunch and a brief private meeting with Obama.

Obama opened up the roundtable meeting by expressing his concern for the three kidnapped Israeli teens who have been missing for almost two weeks. The president said that Israel and the US have been coordinating efforts to find the boys and offered extended assistance in search and rescue efforts.

Peres called on Obama to support Israel regarding the kidnappings. Since the kidnappings occurred, the Obama administration has been strangely silent on the topic, offering only simple statements through the State Department. One of the abducted teens, Naftali Frenkel, is an American citizen.


During the private meeting, Peres asked Obama to consider releasing imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. Pollard has been languishing in a US prison for the last 30 years for passing along classified information to Israel.

Critics of Pollard’s continued incarceration, including former CIA and FBI chiefs, have criticized the US for handing down a severe punishment that does not fit the crime. Spies from other countries who have carried out more extreme types of espionage and passed along classified information more sensitive than Pollard have all received lighter sentences.

Before his trip to the US, Peres met with Pollards’ wife, Esther, and his attorney’s. According to officials, Peres presented Obama with a new legal proposal for Pollard’s release.

“I made a specific offer, but I won’t go into details,” Peres told reporters. “If I give too many details it will just ruin things.”

Peres and Obama Meet at the White House

Peres said that Obama had agreed to look over the offer. “I can’t say that he responded positively on the spot. I don’t want to add to what he said, which was that the US Attorney General would become involved,” Peres stated.

Discussing the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Peres told Obama that he believes peace negotiations can be renewed. Earlier this week, Peres called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “real partner” for peace and stressed that despite being part of the new Palestinian government, Hamas remains a terror organization.

“You can’t put fire and water in the same cup,” Peres told Obama.

On Thursday, Peres will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the Capitol. US Vice President Joe Biden will present Peres with the medal. Peres is expected to speak before both houses of Congress and will address the topic of the three missing teens.

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