WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said reaching out to Muslims is designed to reduce hostility toward Israel and the West.
Speaking to Israeli TV in an interview from the White House Wednesday, Obama said his "outreach to the Muslim community is designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West."
He said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "is somebody who understands that we've got a fairly narrow window of opportunity" and that "we probably won't have a better opportunity than we have right now."
"The fact that he is not perceived as a dove in some ways can be helpful in the sense that any successful peace will have to include the hawks and the doves, on both sides, and in the same way that Richard Nixon here in the United States was able to go to China because he had very strong anti-communist credentials, I think Prime Minister Netanyahu may be very well positioned to bring this about," Obama said, adding that direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians are necessary to build trust.
"I think that if you have direct talks between Abu Mazen, Netanyahu, their teams, that builds trust. And trust then allows for both sides to not be so jumpy or paranoid about every single move that's being made," Obama said.
Asked about many Israelis' skepticism about Obama's commitment to the Jewish state, Obama said, "The United States under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we've got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history. And the single most important threat to Israel -- Iran, and its potential possession of a nuclear weapon -- has been my number one foreign policy priority over the course of the last 18 months."