Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warns President Barack Obama that “time is growing short” on whether to attack Iran as he raises fears of another Holocaust.
The comments were made following a meeting at the White House between the two leaders to discuss Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
While the meeting was designed to project solidarity between the leaders, Mr Netanyahu broke off to insist that the Jewish state must be “the master of its fate”.
Later, he was quoted as telling President Obama behind closed doors: “The pressure [on Iran] is growing but time is growing short.”
Plans to attack Iran have been gathering pace in recent weeks, and President Obama is facing election-year pressure from Israel’s US supporters and Republican presidential candidates.
He sought to reassure Mr Netanyahu that the US was keeping its own military options open as a last resort, and “has Israel’s back”.
But while Mr Netanyahu admitted in the private session that Israel has yet to decide whether to hit Iran’s nuclear sites, though it retains the right to use military action, according to sources, his public stance invoked memories of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
While addressing the influential pro-Israeli lobby, AIPAC, Mr Netanyahu held up a copy of a 1944 letter from the US War Department to world Jewish leaders turning down their request to bomb the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.
He added: “None of us can afford to wait much longer. As prime minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
Drawing a parallel with arguments against attacking Iran, Mr Netanyahu said the War Department explained that such an operation at Auschwitz could provoke “even more vindictive action by the Germans”.
“Think about that, even more vindictive action than the Holocaust,” he said.
President Obama urged Israel to allow international sanctions and diplomacy to work to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“We do believe there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue,” he said.