Panetta: U.S. “Won’t Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon. Period”


U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stressed the U.S. “rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens” during his visit to the Iron Dome battery in Israel, August 1.

— by Danielle Lehrer

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta landed in Israel to reaffirm the “close defense ties between Israel and the U.S” and to discuss efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Panetta met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. According to the Defense Department, stopping Iran’s nuclear program was “square on the agenda.”

Panetta stated during his trip:

Israeli and American leaders ‘continue to work together in the effort to ensure that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear weapon.’

‘What we are discussing is various contingencies and how we would respond,’ Panetta said. ‘We don’t talk about specific military plans. We continue to run a number of options in that area, but the discussions I will have in Israel [will be to determine] the threat we are confronting and to share both information and intelligence on it.’

And:

‘The United States,’ he said, ‘will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Period.’

‘I want you and the people of Israel to know a few things that have not and will not change,’ he said. ‘The United States stands firmly with Israel and we have a rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens.’

After his praise for the Obama Administration this week, Barak said:

When we say all the options are on the table, and when the Americans say all the options are on the table, we mean it, and I believe the Americans mean it.

During his trip, Panetta visited one of the U.S.-funded Iron Dome batteries that are protecting Israel from rocket attacks. The American Forces Press Service published an article today about how the Iron Dome missile defense system is an important demonstration of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Click here to read it.

More photos from Panetta’s trip appear after the jump.

Levine: Obama Has Kept His Promise to Israel

— by Danielle Lehrer

In an op-ed written in The Forward, former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) asserts that President Barack Obama has kept his promise to stand with Israel against rocket attacks.

Extract follows the jump.
During his first term as president, Barack Obama has made good on this assurance. Most recently, on May 17, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the United States would immediately provide Israel with $70 million for the purchase of additional rocket defense batteries. This aid comes after the Obama administration had already given Israel $205 million in 2011, in addition to the $3 billion Israel receives in annual foreign aid…

American funding for David’s Sling, Israel’s missile-defense system, more than doubled over the last four years – from $52 million during the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration to $110.5 million this year. Funding for the advanced system, developed to defend against the ballistic- and cruise-missile threat from Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, has increased every year since President Obama took office in 2009. The system’s interceptor missile, the Stunner, has already been successfully tested, and the first operational David’s Sling battery is scheduled to be deployed in early 2013…

The Obama administration has expanded military cooperation with Israel in other vital ways as well. In late 2009, more than 1,400 American service members participated in Operation Juniper Cobra, the largest joint American-Israeli military exercise in history. An even bigger joint drill is scheduled for October, and will include the establishment of American command posts in Israel and a reciprocal arrangement at United States European Command headquarters in Germany.

President Obama has taken unparalleled steps to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge and ensure that the Jewish state is prepared to defend itself against a multitude of ever-present threats. The Obama administration has, in word and deed, strengthened America’s enduring commitment to Israel’s security – just ask the Israeli leadership.

After the recent announcement of new Iron Dome funding, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak agreed that the U.S.- Israeli defense relationship had never been stronger: ‘The U.S. decision to support further enhancing Israel’s security is an important demonstration of the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel.’  Speaking to claims by the U.S. administration of unprecedented cooperation between the two countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said of President Obama: ‘He has backed those words with deeds.’

Bend the Arc: Health Care Decision Reflects Jewish Values

— by Daniele Lehrer

Bend the Arc’s Alan van Capelle explained in JTA that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act reflects the Jewish values that inspired so many people in our community to support the bill.

Van Capelle wrote:

Jewish law and tradition have much to say about taking an active role in guarding one’s health-and the health of our fellow man. Health and life are bedrock Jewish values, to the extent that saving someone (pikuach nefesh) supersedes even the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) notes, ‘If one has medicine that a sick person needs, it is forbidden to charge more than the appropriate price.’ This statement of Jewish law now becomes the spirit of America’s national health policy, and I could not be more proud.

The Jewish community has long supported a national health-care policy that includes everyone, and traditionally has viewed health care as a communal responsibility. This central Jewish tenet is consistent with a society’s prioritizing of health and safety of everyone in its midst and is demonstrated by the commitment that American Jews have made to supporting hospitals and health services through our communal institutions.

U.S. & Israel Partner to Perform Largest Joint Military Exercise

— by Danielle Lehrer

In October, the U.S. military will partner with the Israeli Defense Forces to assist in Preparing Israel for potential missile attacks from Iran and Syria. This joint military project is the largest one that Israel or the U.S. have ever taken part in-about 3,000 US soldiers and thousands of Israeli troops will participate.

According to The Times of Israel:

News of the drill comes amid ongoing violence in Syria, and with Israel and the US closely discussing the means to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. The commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt.-Gen.Craig A. Franklin, on a recent visit to Israel, established a planning committee with representatives of the IDF to coordinate the details of the exercise, the Maariv Hebrew daily reported Monday. Some 3,000 US soldiers are to participate, alongside thousands of Israeli troops.

During the drill, hundreds of rockets will be fired, providing Israel with the opportunity to test their upgraded Arrow 2 anti-missile system.

According to The Times of Israel:

According to Maariv, some military analysts have nicknamed the exercise a ‘dress rehearsal’ for a potential military conflict, noting that it will send a clear message to Iran…