Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Secretary Panetta, Leon,
it's good to welcome you again to Jerusalem. First I want to use this
opportunity to thank you, President Obama and the American Congress for
enhancing the strategic relationship between our two countries.
At this time of great instability in our region, the strong bi-partisan
message of support for Israel is deeply appreciated. Today we'll have the
opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing our region and no challenge is
greater than stopping Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. Iran is
the foremost sponsor of terrorism, and everything must be done to keep Iran, the
world's most dangerous regime, from developing the world's most dangerous
weapons. You recently said that sanctions on Iran are having a big impact on the
Iranian economy and that is correct. And I'm sure that the recent sanctions
advanced by the President and the Congress will have an even greater impact on
But unfortunately, it's also true that neither sanctions nor diplomacy have
yet had any impact on Iran's nuclear weapons program. America and Israel have
also made clear that all options are on the table. You yourself said a few
months ago that when all else fails, America will act. But these declarations
have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program. However forceful
our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping
them. Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community
does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This must change and it must
change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running
So I look forward to speaking to you about this challenge and about the many
other challenges facing our region during this turbulent time. God knows that
there are so many of them and each day just adds new ones, but I can think of no
one better to discuss all this than you, Leon, so I welcome you again to
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Thank you very much, Mr.
Prime Minister. Thank you for hosting me in Jerusalem again. It is a pleasure
and I mean that sincerely, it is a pleasure to meet again for the third time and
to have this opportunity to discuss the many issues that confront both Israel
and the United States. I've had the opportunity to do that a number of times in
other capacities and now as Secretary of Defense.
Let me begin as I stated earlier today, my condolences on the attack on
Israeli citizens and I want you to know that the American people deeply share
your outrage on this.
Earlier today I had the opportunity, just coming from there to visit at the
Iron Dome facility with Minister Barak, and I am very proud of the support that
the United States has been able to provide Israel to acquire this life saving
capability. You yourself said that this is not about something to start wars
with, this is designed to prevent wars and I agree with that.
I'm also proud of the defense cooperation that we've been able to achieve
over the past few years which is really closer than at any point in our history.
My visit takes place during a time, as you pointed out, of great change and
turmoil in the region. I just came from visits to Tunisia, the birthplace of the
Arab Spring. I visited Egypt, here in Israel, and then from here I will go to
We share, Israel and the United States, shares deep concerns about the
violence that's taking place in neighboring Syria and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
And I want to reassert again the position of the United States that with regards
to Iran, we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period. We will not
allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the
effort to ensure that that does not happen. I want you and the people of Israel
to know a few things that have not and will not change. 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. And make no mistake, we will remain
determined to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.
I want to thank you for your friendship, for helping to advance the
US-Israeli defense relationship, which is essential to the security of our
nations in the 21st century. I look forward to continue to work with you, with
Minister Barak, to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge. And to support
continuing efforts to work towards a sustainable comprehensive peace and a
Thank you very much.