US President Barack Obama reassured Jewish donors on Monday he strongly supports Israel, stressing close ties between the United States and the Jewish state, but also emphasizing that changes in the Middle East will require a fresh look at the region.
"Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes,It's not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things we've been doing and expect somehow that things are going to work themselves out. We're going to have to be creative and we're going to have to be engaged."
Obama said Israel is the United States' "closest ally" and that he was committed to Israel facing the challenges "from a position of strength," noting the closeness between the two countries' defense establishments and his increase in defense assistance to Israel.
"The most important message I have for all of you here tonight is that, even as we try to manage what is going to be a very difficult and challenging situation over the next 12 months, the next 24 months, the next decade, that one inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends."
"But the broader vision, is one in which Israel is a secure Jewish state, One where it is able to live in peace with its neighbors, where kids can get on the bus or go to bed at night and not have to worry about missiles landing on them, where commerce and interactions between peoples in the region is occurring in a normal fashion, where the hopes and dreams of the original travelers to Israel, the original settlers in Israel, that those hopes and dreams that date back a millennium, that those hopes are realized. That will remain our North Star. That will remain our goal."
"It going to require that not only this administration employs all of its creative powers to try to bring about peace in the region, but it’s also going to require all of you as engaged citizens of the United States who are friends of Israel making sure that you are giving us suggestions, you are in an honest dialogue with us, that you’re helping to shape how both Americans and Israelis think about the opportunities and challenges."
"That bond isn't breakable and ... Israel's security will always be at the top tier of considerations in terms of how America manages its foreign policy... Israel is our closest ally and friend. It is a robust democracy. It shares our values and it shares our principles."
"My hope," he concluded, "Is that through the kind of conversations that we’re having here tonight, that we’re going to be able to, together, craft the kind of strategy that not only leads to a strong America, but also leads to a strong Israel."
Obama, who has clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government over settlement building and parameters for peace talks with the Palestinians, said that in the coming months "there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems."
Organizers of the event, entitled "Obama Victory Fund 2012 Dinner with the President in support of a strong US-Israel relationship" ushered the White House pool reporters out of the room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel after Obama's short talk so he could talk frankly with the donors.