Obama addresses issues of Israeli concern

President Barack Obama told the United Nations on Sept. 25 that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel and that “containment” is not an option.

“Make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Obama said in his address to the General Assembly in New York. “It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear arms race in the region and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.”

Obama has rejected containment of a nuclear Iran for months, but attaching its prospect to an existential threat to Israel is the starkest warning he has made.

Much of Obama’s speech was devoted to promoting civil society in the Muslim world. In his only reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama appeared to place the burden on the Palestinians in pressing for a return to talks, mentioning the refusal by some to accept Israel’s right to exist, but not explicitly mentioning Israel’s settlement policies.

“Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace,” he said.

“Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict and those who reject the right of Israel to exist. The road is hard but the destination is clear — a secure Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.” — jta