Netanyahu’s ‘Red Line,’ Obama’s Joke

Photograph by Marc Israel Sellem-Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an official welcoming ceremony on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on March, 20, 2013 near Tel Aviv, Israel.

This hasn’t been a laughing matter for Israel and the U.S.

But today, President Barack Obama managed to find some humor in it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been urging world leaders, particularly Obama, to set “red lines” for Iran’s development of nuclear weaponry — a point at which military action might be unavoidable.

The Israeli ambasssador to the U.S., Michael Oren, has spoken here of a window of opportunity for other nations to take action against Iran’s nuclear program, before it goes underground and is impenetrable, and has said that window is closing.

Today, as Obama arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, he was taken on a tour of the “Iron Dome” short-range rocket and mortar defense system that Israel has built with U.S. assistance. It’s part of a multi-tiered missile defense network. The U.S. has provided $275 million since its inception, the White House notes, and an additional $211 million is promised in 2013.

Obama arrived in an armored SUV to inspect rockets and mobile anti-missile batteries lined up outside a hangar on the tarmac.

“I’m a young man. I’m always looking for any chance to walk,” Obama said to Israeli military officials after getting out of the SUV.

Obama, who had been greeted with lines of red carpets at Air Force One’s landing, was then guided to follow a thin painted red line on the tarmac to the Iron Dome.

Obama was overheard joking that Netanyahu is “always” talking to him about “red lines”. Obama grinned widely and touched Netanyahu’s shoulder as the two continued walking.

Margaret Talev contributed to this report from Tel Aviv. 

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