US and Israel to co-operate against Iran's nuclear ambitions
US SECRETARY of state Hilary Clinton and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu have promised to co-operate to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive.
During talks in Jerusalem last night, Ms Clinton said the two sides were consulting “on an almost daily basis”. Mr Netanyahu said Israel and the US “have our common goals to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.” Yesterday’s visit precedes that of US defence secretary Leon Panetta next week and follows close on the heels of visits by White House national security adviser Tom Donilon and deputy secretary of state William Burns.
Most analysts believe the wave of visits by top-level US officials is no coincidence as Washington seeks to hammer home opposition to any unilateral military action by Israel against Iran, particularly in the run-up to the November presidential election.
President Shimon Peres, who has cautioned against the possibility of an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, praised Washington’s efforts aimed at stopping Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. The official line from Jerusalem is that the sanctions are still not working and the centrifuges are still spinning.
Ms Clinton also tried to allay Israeli fears over the Arab spring, and particularly the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi as Egyptian president. She arrived in Israel after talks with Mr Morsi and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in Cairo, where she stressed the importance of maintaining the peace agreement with Israel.
“This is a time of uncertainty, but also opportunity. It is at times like this that friends such as us need to think together, to act together. We have a calling to be wise, creative, and brave,” she told Mr Peres.
Mr Netanyahu thanked Ms Clinton for the efforts Washington had invested to maintain the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement.
“Egypt has been an anchor of peace and maintaining the peace treaty between us is something that is uppermost in both our minds,” he said.
Ms Clinton’s visit to Israel was her first in almost two years.
When she last visited, in September 2010, Mr Netanyahu met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. However, the peace talks collapsed a few weeks later.
Ms Clinton also met Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad yesterday, but Palestinian officials said she did not bring new ideas that could pave the way for the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Two years is a significant period without a visit of a US secretary of state to Israel. Analysts linked the timing of this week’s visit to the fact that presidential elections are only a few months away and that Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney will be in Jerusalem next week.