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Obama feels our 'distress': Israel's Netanyahu

world Updated: Jan 20, 2009 12:58 IST

AFP
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Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, tipped in the polls to become the next prime minister, said on Tuesday that US President-elect Barack Obama understands the "distress" of Israelis.

"I took away the impression that Barack Obama understood our distress very well as well as the cruelty of the enemies we face," Netanyahu told army radio just hours before Obama's inauguration.

The former prime minister was referring to Hamas Islamists after Israel's 22 day offensive on their Gaza Strip stronghold which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians before a ceasefire took effect on Sunday.

"He (Obama) also understands the dangers that Iranian nuclear armaments would represent," said the Likud Party leader who met Obama in Israel last July.

Israel and the United States both accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb but Tehran says its programme is purely civilian.

The Jewish state, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole nuclear power, has not ruled out resorting to a military option to stop Iran from acquiring atomic weapons.

Latest polling puts Netanyahu ahead in the race to be Israel's next prime minister after elections on February 10.