Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ben Gurion airport after his return from his visit to Canada and the United States (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel on Wednesday, and immediately reiterated the message he had delivered Monday to both the White House and pro-Israel supporters at the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC — that Israel will defend itself as it sees fit against a would-be nuclear Iran.
His trip took him first to Canada, where he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and then to the US, where he met with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as delivering a strident address to AIPAC.
“I return from a very important visit to the US and Canada. I was received warmly, we have many courageous friends,” Netanyahu said. “We are returning for Purim, and this evening we will read in the Book of Esther about those days in which Jews were not masters of their fate and could not defend themselves.
“Today we are in a different world and a different era; we have a strong state and army. The threats have not disappeared, but we can defend ourselves. We have very many friends that stand at our side and will do so at all times,” he said.
During the prime minister’s trip, issues relating to a possible preemptive Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities dominated his discussions and the attendant media coverage.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s security adviser Yaakov Amidror cautiously welcomed an upcoming round of talks between six world powers and Iran over its suspect nuclear program, and said Wednesday that Israel is “very happy” to hear of the negotiations.
But, he said, “without a real military alternative,” Iran is unlikely to give up its nuclear program.