President Obama spent little time on foreign policy during his State of the Union Address but much of what he did have to say was very reassuring for Israel and its friends.
To strong applause from both sides of the aisle, he declared, "Our ironclad commitment – and I mean ironclad – to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history."
This message was coupled with a warning to Iran that he "will take no options off the table" in his determination to prevent that country from getting a nuclear weapon. He told the Iranians that a diplomatic solution is "still possible" if they clean up their act. He said:
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.
One thing he did not mention as he had in previous years was the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which was on the verge of another collapse. As the President was speaking, an effort by the Jordanians to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table was on falling apart in Amman, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas saying there could be no talks unless Israel agrees up front to his demands on settlements, borders and other issues.
U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro reiterated the President's message about Iran Wednesday in an appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Senior Pentagon officials also have been in Israel in recent days to continue close consultations the issue.