Obama Reaffirms Commitment to Israel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

President Barack Obama, seeking to shore up support from the Jewish community ahead of a June deadline for reaching a potential deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities, on Friday said his commitment to Israel was “unshakeable.”

Speaking at a Conservative temple in Washington during Jewish American Heritage Month, Obama said the United States and Israel were in agreement that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, but acknowledged there was a debate about how to achieve that.

“My commitment to Israel’s security is and always will be unshakeable,” Obama said.

Obama’s outreach to American Jews comes after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opposed ongoing negotiations between six world powers, including the United States, to lift sanctions on Iran, in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was unable to attend Obama’s speech because he was out of Washington on a previously scheduled trip, an Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

After the speech on Friday, Obama signed a bill that will give Congress authority to review and potentially block any deal reached with Iran.

The bill was supported largely by Republicans who have raised doubts about lifting sanctions on Iran.