Itongadol.- Israel remains committed to a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians, though any deal would have to include "rock-solid" security arrangements and will require "outside-the-box thinking," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
The premier also spoke of "seizing new opportunities in the region" in light of the "commonality of interests" created by the rise of fundamentalist groups like Islamic State.
Netanyahu arrived at the White House on Wednesday evening for talks with Obama. The two men gave statements to the press in the Oval Office before commencing their meeting, which is expected to take at least an hour.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East, including the American military campaign against Islamic State, the Iranian nuclear issue, and the Palestinian question.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu warned that if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state, the prospect of regime change inside the Islamic Republic will fade even further.
Netanyahu, speaking in New York to some 250 Jewish community leaders and activists, said that the nuclear threshold status would give the regime an aura of “immortality and inevitability,” as happened in North Korea.
Israel is increasingly concerned that the fight against Islamic State will lead some in the West to want to make concessions to Iran on the nuclear issue in order to mobilize Iran in the fight against the organization.
Netanyahu said that although one day there may indeed be regime change inside Iran, this was not something on which Israel could base policy.
The prime minister – picking up on the “Hamas is Islamic State” theme that he hit upon hard at the UN a day earlier (an equation not necessarily accepted in Washington) – held up a picture of the impending execution of a man with a sack over his head in Gaza.
“This isn’t ISIS [Islamic State], this is Hamas,” he said. “And during the recent fighting in Gaza, right around the time that ISIS was doing its grisly deeds, Hamas executed dozens of Palestinians just to impose fear and force the population of Gaza into submission. It’s true there are some differences between Hamas and ISIS – for example, ISIS beheads people and Hamas puts a bullet in the back of their heads.”
But to the victims and to their families, he said, “the horror is the same.”
He said that his point is that share a fanatic ideology. “They all have not only unbridled ambitions but also savage methods. And the more they have the capability to realize their ambitions, the more they’ll unleash their pent-up aggression against our common civilizations.”
After elaborating a bit more on the themes he raised in his UN speech, Netanyahu dedicated the remainder of his 15-minute address to praising the soldiers who took part in Operation Protective Edge.
Referring to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s famous description of Israel as a spider’s web that will disappear when blown upon, Netanyahu said, “some spider web.”
“One of the great things that happened this summer was to see the courage and heroism of the soldiers of Israel,” he said to applause. “What strength, what valor – in the biblical sense. What a generation was born in Israel. What strength of the people expressed through the soldiers who fought a war so just, and who were willing to throw themselves into the maelstrom.”
Netanyahu said it was a source of great pride and hope “that the Jewish people can defend themselves with the sons and daughters of Israel that can stand up in comparison with any generation.”
The warm reception he received Tuesday contrasted with the more tepid response he received at the UN.
When he walked into the ballroom, where everyone was already on their feet applauding, he quipped, “This is a tough crowd.”
Among those in the audience were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who visited Israel over the summer, and former senator Joe Lieberman.
Just as recently retired New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter received a shout-out in Netanyahu’s UN address, his shadow loomed over Tuesday’s event as well, with Malcolm Hoenlein, the head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, giving Netanyahu a pinstripe jersey with Jeter’s name and number on the back.