NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As President Barack Obama continued preparations for his first trip to Israel as commander in chief, there was a shift in tactics Monday, pointed warnings that the president is serious about the use of military action against Iran, and an even tougher response from Israel.
“President Barack Obama is not bluffing,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday.
It was a prelude to Obama’s upcoming trip to the Middle East. Biden, a long-time friend of Israel, was tapped to tell a prominent pro-Israel lobby that the president is committed to doing anything necessary to stop Iran from getting the bomb, including launching a military strike, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“Let me make clear what that commitment is: It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, period. Period. End of discussion, period. Prevent — not contain – prevent,” the vice president said.
It was a subtle shift in tactics, one the legacy-fixated lame duck president hopes will help him achieve the elusive goal of Middle East peace. However, Biden said it was necessary to exhaust all diplomatic solutions in order not to risk losing international support.
“It is critically important for the world to know we did everything in our power; we did everything that could reasonably be expected to avoid any confrontation,” Biden said.
But in a sign that tensions still exist between the United States and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed, saying the U.S. has to get even tougher still with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“From the bottom of my heart and from the clarity of my brain words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat,” Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry held a surprise visit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas wants to renew peace talks in tandem with a freeze on construction in the occupied West Bank.
In addition, Netanyahu said that when he meets with President Obama in Israel he will bring up another hot button topic. He wants the U.S. to release Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy who has been jailed here since 1987.
The Israelis think Pollard’s life sentence is excessive.
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