Netanyahu says Israel cannot cede self-defence



Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country cannot cede its right to self defence to others, with visiting US President Barack Obama re-assuring his enduring support for the security of the Jewish State.

"Today we have both the right and the capability to defend ourselves. As you said earlier today, the essence of the State of Israel, the essence of the rebirth of the Jewish state, is the fulfilment of the age-old dream of the Jewish people: to be masters of our fate in our own state," Netanyahu said.

"That is why I know that you appreciate that Israel never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends, and Israel has no better friend than the United States of America", Netanyahu, whose frosty relations with Obama have been an issue of widespread discussion in media, stressed.

"Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel's sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat," the right-wing Israeli leader said.

The Israeli leader sought United States' cooperation in dealing with the Iranian threat which he described as "an existential threat to Israel" and a great threat to the peace and security of the world.

Obama re-iterated his country's commitment to the security of Israel "as a solemn obligation" that is "non-negotiable".

"As leaders, our most solemn responsibility is the security of our people. That's job number 1. My job as President of the United States is first and foremost is to keep the American people safe. Bibi (nickname for Netanyahu), as Prime Minister, your first task is to keep the people of Israel safe. And Israel's security needs are truly unique, as I've seen myself", the US President said.

"As President I have therefore made it clear America's commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a solemn obligation, and the security of Israel is non-negotiable", he emphasised.

Supporting his claim Obama stressed that America's support for Israel today is unprecedented and the alliance has never been stronger.

"Today our military and intelligence personnel cooperate more closely than ever before. We conduct more joint exercises and training than ever before. We're providing more security assistance and advanced technology to Israel than ever before.

"That includes more support for the missile defences, like Iron Dome which I saw today and which has saved so many Israeli lives," he elaborated.

PTI