Obama talks Iran sanctions, Israel with Jewish lawmakers

US President Barack Obama sought Tuesday to reassure Jewish lawmakers of his support for Israel, detailing plans to boost Israeli security and his administration’s backing of sanctions on Iran.

The meeting with 37 Jewish members of Obama’s Democratic Party came amid skepticism among some US and Israeli Jews about the president’s support for Israel and after ties between Israel and its staunch ally were strained by plans for new Jewish settler homes in east Jerusalem.

Tuesday afternoon’s talks, the first Obama has called with Jewish lawmakers alone, addressed a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran now under discussion and a “shared commitment” to peace and security in the Middle East, the White House said. The meeting lasted an hour and a half.

The United States earlier Tuesday introduced a draft resolution at the United Nations that would expand an arms embargo and measures against Iran’s banking sector, as well as ban the Islamic republic from sensitive overseas activities like uranium mining and developing ballistic missiles.

During the “wide-ranging and productive exchange,” the president and the legislators also discussed the Obama administration’s request to provide 205 million dollars to help Israel deploy an anti-missile defense system, the White House said.

The so-called Iron Dome is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired at Israel by the Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah.

Among lawmakers present at the talks were influential senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, and Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut. – AFP/jy