United States Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Wednesday declared that as president his goal would be to eliminate the threat to Israel from Iran, speaking in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"I'll do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything," Obama told the pro-Israel lobby at a conference in Washington, only hours after securing his party's nomination.
Later in the speech, which was frequently punctuated by the crowd's rapturous applause, he said: "I will always leave the threat of military action on the table to defend our security, and that of our ally Israel."
The Illinois senator also vowed he would never compromise on Israel's security, especially "not while there are still groups who deny the holocaust, not when there are terrorist groups that are committed to Israel's destruction... Not while there are rockets raining down on Sderot."
Obama was referring to the southern Israeli town that has been the target of incessant rocket fire by Palestinian militants in Gaza.
"I will always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world," he added.
Moments after Obama's speech, his former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the conference. Clinton, whose presidential bid was defeated in the day by Obama, echoed his pledges of U.S. support for Israel.
"I believe that speaking up for a strong American-Israeli relationship is essential to our interests," Clinton told the audience. She added that, "Israel`s security is critical to our security."
Referring to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the New York senator said that the U.S. will never pressure Israel to make unilateral concessions or impose a "made in America solution."
Clinton also told the conference: "I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel."
In his address, Obama told the 7,000 people gathered that rumors and suggestions that he is unfriendly to Israel and to Jewish interests are unfounded.
He cited e-mails filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. Obama told the gathering to "let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."
Turning to the contentious issue of Jerusalem, Obama said that the city must remain the capital of Israel and undivided.
This comment drew fire from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently negotiating with Israel toward the establishment of a Palestinian state and the future of the capital.
"This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters.
"The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state."
Obama also blasted U.S. President George W. Bush's administration's foreign policy in the Middle East. He stated that a major goal of his was to "free ourselves from the tyranny of oil, the petro dollars that pay for weapons that kill American troops and Israeli citizens."
Referring to Israel's Holocaust memorial, the presidential hopeful said that, "The images you see at Yad Vashem never leave you."