Obama calls for better intelligence cooperation with Israel to confront Hezbollah


obama white houseU.S. President Barack Obama called for better intelligence cooperation between Washington and Tel Aviv to stop Hezbollah from obtaining more missiles with which to target Israel after the nuclear deal with Iran is implemented.

“I think that once we have completed the congressional debate and the deal is in the process of being implemented, it will be important for my administration and the Israeli government to move forward on what I’ve been calling for since April, when the political framework agreement in Lausanne was first announced, and that is to sit down and ask the question, what are the major security challenges that we together face in the region, and how can we build on the already robust, unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation that we have to make our security arrangements even stronger?” Obama told Forward a newspaper published in New York for a Jewish-American audience, in an interview.

“As much intelligence cooperation and sharing as we’re already doing, we need to do better if we want to stop Hezbollah from continuing to get missiles that can be trained on Tel Aviv,” he stressed

He said Washington should discuss more with Israel on whether “there (are) additional capabilities that Israel may be able to use to prevent Hezbollah, for example, from getting missiles.”

He said Iran has been effective in its destabilizing activities because it has used proxies.

Tehran has “invested in places like Lebanon for decades and become entrenched. And the reason we haven’t done a better job of stopping that is not because they’re outspending us. The reason is because we haven’t been as coordinated, had as good intelligence and been as systematic in pushing back as we need to be,” Obama added

The U.S. president reiterated that his disagreement with Israel over the terms of the Iran nuclear deal was a “fight within the family.”

“Over the next several weeks as we get to the conclusion of the congressional debate, I think it is important for everybody to just take a breath for a moment and recognize that people on both sides of the debate love the United States and also love Israel,” he said.

Obama said that he was hurt by claims that he was anti-Semitic. “There’s not a smidgen of evidence for it, other than the fact that there have been times where I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue,” he argued.