Israel and Washington argue over "red lines" on Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the administration of President Barack Obama openly argued this weekend about whether "red lines" should be drawn against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, dpa reported.
Netanyahu demanded in a round of interviews Sunday that Washington and the rest of the world tell Tehran that if it crossed a certain point, military force would be used against it.
But Obama on Friday said he would not impose red lines or a deadline on Tehran.
"No leader ties his own hands," Obama told a conference call with 1,200 rabbis ahead of the Jewish New Year, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "I started speaking about the Iranian threat 16 years ago," Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post.
"If I was not a lone voice then, I was one of the few, and then others joined. And then I started speaking about the need for economic sanctions against Iran. I wasn't the only voice, but I was one of the few. Now I speak about red lines for Iran. So far I am one of the few. I hope others will join."
In what the newspaper interpreted as an indication that a unilateral Israeli strike was not imminent, he added: "It takes time to persuade people of the wisdom of this policy."
Earlier this week US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also rejected the notion of "red lines."
"The fact is," he told Foreign Policy's National Security channel Friday, that US presidents and Israeli leaders do not have "a bunch of little red lines that determine their decisions."
"Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has also rejected a deadline. In the interviews, Netanyahu angrily rejected charges that he was manufacturing a crisis with the Obama administration ahead of the US elections.
US-Israeli security and intelligence cooperation was "very close" and "very important," but it was "only natural" to have "different perspectives."
"When we have a difference of views we don't have to sweep them under the rug. I believe there has to be clear limits drawn to Iran's advance toward nuclear weapons, and that is not something I intend to be quiet about," he told the Jerusalem Post.
Netanyahu gave interviews with the media ahead of the Jewish New Year, which starts at sunset Sunday and ends Tuesday night.