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Netanyahu says he won’t let people ‘draw me’ into US election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday warned Washington that time was running short to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and denied that his increased pressure was motivated by the American presidential election.

Netanyahu last week escalated his criticism of President Obama's Iran policy, blasting the White House for declining to clarify a “red line” they would not allow Iran to cross in its nuclear program.

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Those comments were fodder for Republicans, including GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who has charged Obama with being a weak ally to Israel and of failing to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Netanyahu on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday was asked what he believed were the "major differences" between Romney and Obama regarding Israel and Iran. The prime minister said he knew that others “are trying to draw me into the American election, and I’m not going to do that."

“We value, we cherish the bipartisan support for Israel in the United States, and we're supported by Democrats and Republicans alike,” he continued. “This is not an electoral issue. It is not based on any electoral consideration. I think that there's a common interest of all Americans, of all political persuasions, to stop Iran.”


Netanyahu repeated his calls for the U.S. to clarify a red line, saying that such a stance “actually reduces the chance of a military conflict.”

“If they know there's a point, a stage in the enrichment or other nuclear activities that they cannot cross because they're face consequences, I think they'll actually not cross it,” he said of Iran.

Netanyahu said Iran’s nuclear program was “moving rapidly.” He said the moment was “fast approaching” when the U.S. and Israel could lose the capability to stop Iran from going further.

The Obama administration, however, has rebuffed Netanyahu’s increasing pressure to declare a red line saying that tough sanctions against Iran were beginning to work. 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president believes “there remains time and space” for sanctions to still work.

Netanyahu has shown public impatience with that stance however, telling reporters last week at a press conference that “those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Netanyahu’s interview also follows a tense week in U.S.-Israel relations after accusations that Obama had snubbed Netanyahu’s requests for a meeting later this month, when he visits the U.S. 

The White House denied that Obama had denied a meeting request and the president phoned Netanyahu on Tuesday to soothe tensions and to discuss Iran.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said the two had a “good conversation,” and he would “respect the president” and not share details.

But he reiterated his stance that the U.S. “should have a red line communicated to Iran.”

“I know people value flexibility, that’s important, but at his late stage in the game, Iran needs to see clarity,” said Netanyahu.