Barack Obama asserted his sympathy for Israel in the Jewish state’s largest newspaper.
Yediot Achronot on Wednesday published excerpts of its exclusive interview with the Democratic presidential hopeful. The full text was to be published in Friday’s paper.
In the interview, Obama reiterated his rejection of attempts by rivals to paint him as a security liability, and possible anti-Semite, due to his Muslim and African lineage.
“People who know the facts have no doubt about my commitment to the security of Israel and my commitment to relations between the United States and Israel,” he said.
“It is possible that my roots endow me with an internal understanding that enables me to conduct better diplomacy in the Muslim world. That is certainly to my advantage.”
Obama also said his calls for U.S. talks with Iran should not be construed as a soft stand on its nuclear project or anti-Israel animus, noting that “the gravest threat to Israel today comes from Iran.”
“My mission, when I become president, is to remove that threat,” he said. “The time has come to talk to the Iranians directly in order to arrive at a cessation of their support for terrorism and to halt their production of components for nuclear weapons. I believe that we have to offer Iran better relations with the international community. If they do not accept that, we will be able to step up the sanctions.”