Obama tells rabbis: ‘No leader wants to tie his hands’ by setting red lines, deadlines

Click photo to download. Caption: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the White House earlier this year. Credit: White House.(JNS.org) Speaking on a pre-Rosh Hashanah conference call with 1,200 rabbis on Sept. 14, U.S. President Barack Obama echoed what other administration officials have been saying of late: America will not set deadlines or red lines for taking military action against Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama told rabbis from across the denominational spectrum that “no leader wants to tie his hands” by setting such conditions. His statement comes after both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made similar comments earlier the same week.

"No leader," however, does not seem to include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently chided the U.S. and other countries for having an attitude of “wait, there’s still time” when it comes to Iran.

“Wait until when?” Netanyahu asked. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Additionally, Netanyahu emphasized his differences with Obama on the Iran issue by saying “leadership is tested when it keeps to its goals even when friends disagree and even when they are the best of friends.”

But Obama—again echoing the recent comments of other administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden—told the rabbis that there is “no daylight between Israel and U.S. positions” on Iran.

There may come a time for military action against Iran, the president said, but that time will not come “until we have exhausted all options.” There remains “time and space for diplomacy” to solve the Iranian threat, he added.

Posted on September 14, 2012 .