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Obama, Netanyahu Set to Discuss Iran

Samara Greenberg

According to two Israeli papers, Haaretz and Israel Hayom, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following his upcoming March 5 meeting with President Barack Obama, wants the U.S. president to deliver an unequivocal message in a joint statement exclaiming that Washington is preparing for a military operation against Iran in the event that Tehran crosses specific “red lines.” The goal of the announcement would be to present a strong U.S.-Israeli front to hopefully put pressure on Iran.

Even before Netanyahu’s visit, the Obama administration has issued harsher-than-usual words for Tehran. On Wednesday, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz told reporters that the Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared military options to strike Iranian nuclear sites. According to Pentagon officials, the military options also include attacking the pillars of the regime, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite Qods Force, Iranian military bases, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Israel unveiled its most advanced bomb shelter yet. Built below a parking lot, the space is four stories underground and can hold 1,600 people. According to officials, the unveiling is coincidental and not related to Iran. Israel is under constant threat from terrorist groups on its borders, and the shelter is the latest addition to Israel’s defense infrastructure. Tel Aviv alone has refuges that can provide cover to 250,000 people.

Israel’s impressive infrastructure is being built for good reason: A study released this week by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies notes that Israel’s security environment is “worse now than at any time in the last two decades” and that recent actions by Washington have strengthened a “general perception of a weak and confused American foreign policy.” With new regional threats for Israel on the horizon, as this blog reported yesterday, it is crucial for America and Israel to put forth a unified message against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. President Obama should take Netanyahu up on his offer.