World cannot protect Israel: Israeli minister says

Israel’s foreign minister says the international community’s failure to stop the violence in Syria shows it cannot keep Israel safe.

Avigdor Lieberman says the inability of international leaders and aid workers to alleviate “systematic murder of innocent civilians” in Syria “challenges all the promises of the international community that they are responsible for our security.”

Lieberman spoke Sunday on Israel Radio. His comments come as the United States tries to convince Israel to rely on global economic sanctions and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions before resorting to a military strike.

Israel is worried Iran is developing nuclear weapons that could be used against it. Iran claims it only seeks nuclear reactors for energy and medical research.

Lieberman also told public radio that Israel will take any decisions on Iran’s nuclear activities as an “independent state.”

“Clearly, the United States is the biggest world power and most important country that is a friend of Israel, but we are an independent state,” he said.

“Ultimately, the state of Israel will take the decisions that are most appropriate based on its evaluation of the situation,” he said.

Lieberman’s comments came shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to hold talks in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, a meeting expected to focus heavily on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Ahead of the key talks with Obama said that he and Netanyahu share “a common vision about where we want to go.” 

But when the Israeli leader meets Obama in the White House on Monday he will want to be convinced that the two also have a common view of the road to be taken.

During a weekend stopover in Canada ahead of the Washington talks, Netanyahu warned that the west’s favored route of diplomatic pressure and sanctions to force Iran to abandon what both Israel and the U.S. believe is a nuclear arms program could well turn out to be a blind alley.

“Everyone would like to see a peaceful solution, where Iran abandons its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said during a visit on Friday to the Canadian parliament, for talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“In fact it’s done the very opposite and could do again what it has done before; pursue or exploit the talks as they’ve done in the past, to deceive and to delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running the clock,” he said.

“I think the international community should not fall into that trap.”

Israel says that at a yet undefined point the sanctions route must be deemed to have failed and military action against Tehran will become inevitable.

Officials have said that while the Jewish state would prefer that the U.S. lead such an attack, Israel will go it alone if it feels its back is against the wall.

During a visit to the White House last May, Netanyahu scolded Obama for a Middle East policy that he called “based on illusions” and gave the president a lecture on the historic struggles of the Jewish people.

Obama told the Atlantic Monthly magazine in remarks published Friday that his relationship with the Israeli leader was one focused on business and noted they came from different political traditions.

“We can be very frank with each other, very blunt with each other, very honest with each other,” he said.

“For the most part, when we have our differences, they are tactical and not strategic,” he said. “We have a common vision about where we want to go.”

“At any given moment — as is true, frankly, with my relationship with every other foreign leader — there’s not going to be a perfect alignment of how we achieve these objectives,” he said.

While the chemistry, or lack of it, between Israeli and US leaders can ebb and flow according to who holds the post at any given time, the underlying state-to-state bond is unshakeable, Israeli and US officials say.

“I have no doubt that at this meeting the prime minister and the president will reaffirm the deep bonds between the countries,” Kurt Hoyer, spokesman of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv told AFP.