WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Shimon Peres will meet with President Barack Obama in the U.S. capital on Sunday. Peres will also tell delegates of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC that Israel is not rushing into a war, but will defend itself if it has to.
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Ahead of his meeting with the American leader, Peres will deliver a speech to AIPAC in which he will express his support for, and faith in, the friendship between Israel and the United States. He will also thank Obama for the political and security assistance he has given Israel during the three-and-a-half years of his presidency to date.
Sources close to Peres told Haaretz on Saturday that the Israeli president's speech will focus mainly on the debt that Israel owes the U.S., the American people and Obama for the close ties between the two countries.
Peres will tell delegates attending the AIPAC conference that Israel should "get back to the basics" of the Israeli-American relationship, and that "sometimes it does no harm to say 'Thank you'." Peres will conclude his speech by saying he is "confident that the United States will always stand by Israel."
Peres will also dedicate a large portion of his speech to Iran, telling delegates that "Israel is not rushing into war. We are a country that always seeks out peace and peace is always our preferred option, but our enemies should make no mistakes. We have fought six wars that were forced upon us and we have won them all. If another war is forced upon us, we will fight it and we will win it."
Peres will also talk about the importance of renewing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Peace, he will say, is not just in Israel's interest, it is "a moral duty for the Jewish people."
Immediately after Peres' speech, Obama will take to the podium. The American leader is not expected to unveil any new initiative on the Iranian issue. Instead, he will reiterate a message he has been relaying for several months - that the United States will not allow the Islamic Republic to become a nuclear-armed power. Obama is expected to focus on the series of measures that his administration has taken to tighten security cooperation with Israel.
Sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, do not believe that Obama's speech will include anything dramatic on the Iranian issue, but, rather, that it will stress the severity of the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran and the United States' commitment to thwarting Tehran's aspirations on this front.
Netanyahu, who began his North America trip on Friday in Canada, told the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, that the international community should not allow what he called "Iran's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons" to succeed.