After a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem at the David Citadel Hotel on Wednesday, US Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham held a press conference where they spoke about several pressing foreign policy issues in the region.
Senator Lieberman used some very harsh language at the Wednesday press conference to describe the Iranian nuclear program, saying the US must do everything it can to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The US will address the Iranian threat “through diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions if we can, but through military action if we must,” said Lieberman
Although US officials often say no option should be taken off the table in relation to Iran’s nuclear program, this is one of the few times an official of Lieberman’s standing has explicitly used the term “military action” while in Israel.
Lieberman also referred to Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.
The senator, who related that he had spoken with people in Washington, said that “it was a very positive meeting. We can say with some encouragement that the relationship is back on track.”
Senator McCain, referring to the recent tensions between Israel and Turkey, said that Turkey was one of the US’s oldest and best allies.
“Of course, we have been disappointed by the actions and words the Turkish government was used,” said McCain. “I hope that at sometime the Turkish leadership would lower the rhetoric, reduce it, and try to solve differences in a quiet way.”
Barak also addressed the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, calling it “successful.”
“I spoke to the prime minister and part of the American National Security Council on the telephone, and we feel that there is a good chance to open direct talks between us and the Palestinians on all of the relevant topics,” Barak said.
“I think that the success of this meeting expresses the depth of the basic relationship between us and the US, and between us and the Obama administration, and of the importance of this special relationship on the subject of Israel’s security,” Barak added.
However, Barak said, “I don’t want to delude us – there will be rises and falls and difficult moments throughout the process, but I believe and hope that we, in the next few weeks, will be in the middle of direct talks that will promote the chances for peace and will ensure the security and interests of Israel.”
Later Wednesday, McCain, Lieberman and Graham plan to visit IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Minister of Intelligence Affairs Dan Meridor, and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni.
The senators arrived in the West Bank on Tuesday, where they visited PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and a Palestinian National Security Forces Operations Camp.