- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2012

President Obama offered Israel’s prime minister advanced weapons and tacit support for an attack on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a promise that Israel will not strike this year, a top Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

The Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Thursday that the offer was made Sunday during a White House meeting between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Obama was said to have offered Mr. Netanyahu advanced bunker-busting bombs and airborne refueling tankers — tools that would help an Israeli assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The report also said that, under the deal, Mr. Obama would not try to stop Israel from taking action.

The U.S. president has been lobbying Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work before attacking Iran. Israel fears that, if it does not act soon, Iran’s program might reach a point where it will no longer be vulnerable to a strike.

In his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday, Mr. Netanyahu warned that time is running out to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and said he would never let Israelis “live in the shadow of annihilation.”

Mr. Obama told the same gathering a day earlier that “Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States — just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.”

But he said he “firmly” believes that there is still an opportunity to resolve the issue without force and argued that there has been “too much loose talk of war.”

An Israeli poll released Thursday showed that 58 percent of Israelis oppose a strike on Iran without U.S. backing.

• Ben Birnbaum can be reached at 138247@example.com.

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