What Does 'Having Israel's Back' Mean?

ABC's Jake Tapper questions Obama on U.S. role in Middle East.
3:00 | 03/06/12

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Transcript for What Does 'Having Israel's Back' Mean?
Kind of assurances can give prime minister -- About his role that the US would play it. Diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to work to convince. Iran and Iran's leaders to change their behavior and Israel goes ahead. And prepares to -- -- news political. -- We recognize that has been debated bluster shouldn't be happening in this country and vigorous debate about. What could happen in the case it was -- in ways that sadly we did not do before going into Iraq. I think there's no doubt that those who are suggesting. Or proposing or beating the drums of war. She explained clearly the American people what they think the costs and benefits would. I'm not one of those people because what I've said is that we have a window. Through which we can resolve this issue peaceful. We have put forward an international framework that is applying unprecedented pressure. -- run -- just stated that they are willing to return to the negotiating table and we've got the opportunity even as we maintain that pressure to see how it plays out. Among them -- on the details my conversation with prime mister Netanyahu. What I said publicly doesn't differ greatly from what I said privately. Israel is a sovereign nation that has to make its own decisions about how best of preserve its security as I said over the last several days. I am deeply mindful of the historical precedents. That way on. Any prime minister mr. When they think about the potential threats two. To Israel and the Jewish homeland. What I've also said is that because. Sanctions. Are. Starting to have significant effect inside -- and that's not just my assessment that's I think -- uniforms. Because the sanctions are gonna be even tougher in the coming months. Because they're now -- and affect the oil industry -- Central Bank. And because. Word -- saying he noises about them referring to the negotiating table. That it is deeply in. Everybody's interest the United States Israel and the world's to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion. And so this notion that somehow. We have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks or month. Or two months. Is not borne out by the facts. And the argument that we've made to the Israelis is that. We have made an unprecedented commitment to their security. There is an unbreakable bond between our two countries. But one of the functions of friends is to make sure that we provide honest and unvarnished advice. In terms of what is the best approach to achieve a common goal. Particularly one in which. We have a stake. This is not just an issue of Israeli interest this is. An issue of US interest it's also not just an issue -- consequences for Israel if action is taken. Prematurely. There are consequences the United States as well. And so. -- -- fact that. Any time we consider military action. That. The American people understand. There is going to be a price to -- sometimes it's necessary -- but we don't do -- casual. When when I visit Walter Reed. What I've signed letters to families. That having come whose loved ones have not come home. I'm reminded that there is a cost sometimes we bear that cost but we think it through. We don't play politics with. When we have in the past when we haven't thought it through. And it gets wrapped up in politics. We make mistakes. And typically it's not the folks who were. Popping off who pay the price. It's these incredible. Men women in uniform and their families -- the press. And and as a consequence I think it's very important for us. To take a careful thoughtful sober approach to what is a real problem and that's what we've been over the last three years that's what I intend to keep. It. They might have been beating the profitable but did very publicly say we've got Israel's back what does that mean. What it means is is that historically we have. Always cooperated with Israel -- respect to the defense of -- Just like we do with a whole range of other elements. Just like we do with -- Great Britain just like we do with Japan. And that broad statement I think. Is confirmed when you look at what we've done over the last three years on things like iron dome that prevents. Missiles from raining down on. Their small towns along the border regions of Israel. That potentially land on schools are. Children -- famous. And we're gonna continue that unprecedented security. Security commitment. It was not. A military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action it was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about. And that the deeds of my administration over the last three years confirms. How deeply we care -- that's memo we've --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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