A senior official in the Obama administration was quoted on Tuesday as saying that "Israelis feel the need to elevate the urgency on the Iranian timeline…They tend to do this from time to time. It’s something we’ve learned to live with.”
The official was quoted in a column written by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg who criticized the statements and called on Obama to visit Israel and make it clear that he would not tolerate Iranian nuclear weapons.
In his column for the Bloomberg news site Goldberg reviews the angry rhetoric and accusatory threats from Iran and mentions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak "understand that much of the civilized world is prepared to live with a nuclear Iran."
He added: "They harbor seemingly ineradicable fears that US President Barack Obama, and his Western allies, might secretly be willing to do the same."
At this point Goldberg quotes the senior administration official and claims that this is "partly why the White House seems to be taking the most recent Israeli statements and strategic leaks in stride – a bit too much in stride, in fact."
According to Goldberg there is "naturally, an element of gamesmanship to the Israeli government’s media campaign."
But he adds that "one way to tell that Netanyahu and Barak may actually be intent on striking Iran in the coming weeks is that those Israelis who oppose a unilateral strike appear to be panicking."
He mentions Israeli president Shimon Peres as the most prominent among those opposing the strike.
Goldberg says he believes "the president is serious about confronting the (Iranian) threat" but understands why "Israel’s leaders are conditioned to disbelieve him: Jewish history is strewn with examples of promises unfulfilled and outright abandonment."
Which is why he thinks "There is one sure way, though, that Obama can get his message across, and that is to deliver it in Israel, and soon."
A visit to Israel, says Goldberg "would do more to delay a strike on Iran than any other step the administration could take. The beauty of this idea is that Obama won’t have to say anything new – he’s on record explaining why the idea of containing a nuclear Iran isn’t an option."
Goldberg also mentions a similar call made by Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Military Intelligence who in last week\’s Washington Post argued that Obama should visit Israel to deliver a face-to-face message that stopping Iran is a vital US national security interest.
What, says Goldberg "could be more effective than the US president explaining to Israelis, in Israel, that their two countries share the same interests?"
The columnist does not disregard the fact that Obama is currently in the midst of a presidential election campaign but notes "a trip to Israel – a place he hasn’t visited as president – would put Iran on notice that Obama is deadly serious about thwarting their plans.
"Combined with stops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, such a visit would also allay the fears of our Arab allies. Most important, such a visit could prevent war. Which, of course, is a very presidential thing to do."
Ynet reporter in Washington Yitzhak Benhorin adds that in spite of this call, sources in the US do not believe that Obama will visit Israel before the November elections. Obama and Netanyahu are both set on attending the UN General Assembly in September and it is possible they will meet there.