Netanyahu urges Obama to lead on preventing Iran nukes


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Obama he hoped that Iran would not come close to acquiring a nuclear weapon under Obama’s watch.

Netanyahu, who met with Obama on Wednesday at the White House, said that a deal now under consideration providing sanctions relief for a nuclear rollback could leave Iran a “threshold nuclear power.”

“I firmly hope that under your leadership that will not happen,” Netanyahu said at the outset of the meeting.

Obama administration officials in recent weeks have said there has been progress in talks between Iran and the major powers aimed at keeping Iran from having the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon.

Western officials say that Iran likely will be allowed to enrich uranium to limited amounts, not near weaponization, under a deal. Israel says any enrichment capability leaves Iran on the threshold of weapon making.

The deadline for the talks is Nov. 24.

Obama told Netanyahu that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process remains a priority, despite the collapse of talks in April.

The U.S. leader referred to this summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“We have to find a way to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes,” Obama said, “but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well. And so we’ll discuss extensively both the situation in rebuilding Gaza but also how can we find a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Netanyahu thanked Obama for the “unflinching support you gave Israel during our difficult days” during Operation Protective Edge.

The leaders also said they would discuss the threat posed to the region by the jihadist group ISIS.

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