Hands-on approach. US President Obama
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama met with 37 Jewish members of the Democratic caucuses Tuesday afternoon, to discuss a range of issues important to US foreign policy.
According to the White House Media Affairs Office, the conversation included an update on proximity talks and administration efforts to strengthen Israel's security, including the administration’s recent decision to provide Israel with an additional $205 million in funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The president also briefed the Jewish senators and congressmen on the proposed draft of UN Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran.
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The meeting was described as a "wide ranging and productive exchange about their shared commitment to peace and security in Israel and the Middle East."
The senators urged Obama to increase his involvement in Washington's Israel-related policies, and not leave things to the lower ranks of the administration.
Such involvement, they advised, would help clear up any misconception as to his attitude towards Israel. The senators and congressmen also suggested Obama visits Israel again.
The 90-minute meeting also included US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her deputy, James Steinberg.
Congressman Steve Rothman (New Jersey) said that much of the meeting focused on Iran, as well as the Republican Party's efforts to misrepresent Obama's stands on the issue and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rothman added that he believes that Obama was the best president Israel ever worked with, in terms of security and intelligence cooperation.
Obama reportedly told the Jewish mission that he made some mistakes he when he stepped onto the "minefield" that is the Middle East, triggered several of them and "lost some fingers."
Nonetheless, the US president stressed that Washington's relations with Jerusalem are strong, and that the reports of tension between the two were overrated.
Congressman Eliot Engel (New York) told reporters that the US and Israel cannot allow "recent misunderstandings," as he called them, to cloud their relationship and distract them from their mutual goals.
Much like in a family, he said, sometimes there are misunderstandings that have to be resolved through dialogue.