Obama vows not to compromise on ”Israel's security”
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama assured Jewish leaders Wednesday that he will be a steadfast ally of Israel and will not negotiate with terrorist groups. Only hours after securing his party's nomination, Obama used a speech to 7,000 pro-Israel activists to try to ease concerns that some Jewish voters have about him and his stance on Middle East affairs.
He criticized Sen. John McCain, his GOP opponent this fall, and dismissed claims that he underestimates the threat that Iran poses. "As president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security," Obama told an annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major Jewish bipartisan group.
"We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements," he said. "There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations."
"Contrary to the claims of some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking," Obama said, according to the AP. But if elected, he said, "I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing if, and only if it can advance the interests of the United States."
"I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel," he said.
Obama said there is no greater threat to Israel than Iran, which "supports violent extremists" and "pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race." All those threats were known in 2002, he said, yet the Bush administration "ignored it and instead invaded and occupied Iraq."
He said McCain "refuses to understand or acknowledge the failure of the policy that he would continue. He criticizes my willingness to use strong diplomacy, but offers only an alternate reality — one where the war in Iraq has somehow put Iran on its heels. The truth is the opposite."